Leadership Tips: Getting the Most Out of Conventions and Expos
Conventions and expos are a great way for restoration professionals and business owners to network, learn about new products and techniques, and stay up-to-date on industry trends. However, with so many events to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which ones to attend and how to be efficient with your time. Check out the following tips and strategies to get the most out of industry-related conventions and expos.
Before attending any convention or expo, it’s important to do some research and planning. Look at the schedule of events and plan which sessions and workshops you want to attend. Make sure to leave some free time to explore the expo floor and visit vendor booths. Reach out to vendors ahead of time and set up appointments to learn about their products and services.
One grave mistake we see made all too often is for individuals to go with the flow of an expo, hoping to meet and connect with powerful partners. Well, it just doesn’t work like that. Instead, come intentionally with objectives in mind. You should already know who you’d like to meet and what you want to gain from this experience, and have action plans on how to achieve those objectives.
Also make sure to have a pre-set accountability measure in place. When you feel like activities and events to attend are all happening too quickly, having a system in place to keep you on track will go a long way.
Network, network, network
One of the biggest benefits of attending a convention or expo is the opportunity to network with other professionals in your industry. Don’t be shy about introducing yourself to others and exchanging business cards. Attend networking events and socials, and join industry-related groups on social media to stay connected with the people you meet.
Ditch the elevator pitch and look to connect in a more meaningful way. This means having a natural inquisitive nature and truly listening to how you might be of service to these connections.
It wouldn’t hurt to make connecting easier as well. Give aways, informational material, and take-home goodies are great but will do you no good if people don’t remember you. Make things fun and easy by having light-hearted ice breakers and digital cards on the ready to make transferring contact information easier.
Take advantage of educational opportunities
Conventions and expos offer a variety of educational opportunities, from keynote speakers to workshops and training sessions. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn about new products, techniques, and industry trends. Attend sessions that are relevant to your business or interests, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or participate in discussions.
You can use these educational workshops in two distinct ways:
- You can take the opportunity to learn something new. The information retained from Expos could build out months of valuable information you could be leveraging in your local market.
- You can work the room. Often, speakers and subject matter experts come with an agenda. While you’ve come to learn, they’ve come to sell. Use this opportunity to build credibility, and you’ll be surprised just who might be taking notice. Can someone say invitation to the corporate suite?
Explore the expo floor
The expo floor is where you’ll find vendors showcasing their products and services. Take the time to explore the floor and visit vendor booths. Ask questions and learn about new products and services that could benefit your business. Take notes and collect brochures and business cards to review later. Only take information that you deem important.
There is no worse feeling than someone wasting your time, so be courteous to those you meet on the floor. You never know—that could be you next year with a paid vendor spot, so act accordingly.
Attend product demonstrations
Many vendors offer product demonstrations at their booths or in separate demo areas. These demonstrations can provide valuable information about how products work and how they can benefit your business. Attend as many product demos as you can to learn about new products and techniques. This is also a great opportunity to connect with the demonstrators. Often times they have open spots for the following year. Gaining valuable information on how to partake can be a fantastic opportunity.
Consider getting involved in the convention or expo by volunteering, presenting a workshop or session, or participating in a panel discussion. These opportunities can help you establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry while you make valuable connections with other professionals.
After the convention or expo, make sure to follow up with the people you met and the vendors with whom you spoke. Send follow-up emails or messages, and schedule appointments to continue the conversations you started at the event. Review your notes and business cards, and take action on any new products or services you learned about.
Be mindful of how you approach your follow-up. You might feel like rushing back to your home base and start calling up all your new friends, but that could be counterproductive. Instead, have a dedicated strategy. Give your new connections a few days to get settled after traveling. Be sure to only release information that they agreed to receive, which means no e-newsletters or spam emails. Rather, work to move communication to a one-on-one follow-up and provide value.
Attending industry-related conventions and expos can be a valuable way to stay up-to-date on industry trends, learn about new products and services, and connect with other professionals in your field. By following these tips and strategies, you can get the most out of your convention or expo experience and bring new insights and ideas back to your business.