Get ready to rule at conferences and events with these tried and tested techniques.
All conferences and networking events have been cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus. Events will be back and in fact, you may find yourself having to make some decisions due to conflicts. Events that usually occur throughout the year may now be trying to take place within a 3 to 4-month time frame.
Take advantage of your time at home and calculate your Return on Event Investment (ROEI) for the events you may want to attend. Whether you work for a large corporation that sends you to events or you are a small business owner who must decide where to invest your money, chances are good you are only getting about 50% of the value of the events you attend.
Likely your matchmaking events are set up in advance depending upon what invitations you received or that looked good the hour or so you spent looking at options. You may have perused the agenda on the plane ride to the event and glanced at the list of companies at the trade show.
Calculating your ROEI is not that difficult and it works regardless of the event type. For our discussion here, we will use a typical annual, national supplier diversity event. Look at three things: cost, objectives and opportunities.
Understand what the investment is for an event. The total cost is usually spread out over several months and it’s easy to lose track of the total budget or checkbook hit. Make sure you include these in your cost tally:
■ Ground transportation and parking
■ Promotional items
■ Time out of the office
You may have to give some thought to the last one, but there is a cost and you should be aware of what isn’t happening while the event is happening.
Clearly define the objectives you want to accomplish. These events are too expensive to ‘wing it’. Objectives should be measurable. A few for your consideration:
■ Meet ‘x’ number of new companies
■ Go home with ‘x’ number of solid leads for business
■ Specific education: a new marketing program, the lowdown on the new tax laws, tips for recruiting whatever you need to run a better operation
■ Increase the network by ‘x’ number of people, ‘x’ industry contacts, or whatever your particular networking needs happen to be
■ Products for your business or department: this is a great place to get a demo of that software you’ve had your eye on or some other resource
■ Don’t forget people from SBA, other government agencies, and various organizations that can help you out
How do you ensure you get your money’s worth? You need to take advantage of everything that is going on at these events, not just a couple of strolls through the trade fair and most of your matchmaking appointments. Before you get there, you should know about:
■ Agenda: what type of topics will be covered?
■ Speaker list: who is talking and on what topics?
■ Company list: companies and/or industries represented?
■ Attendee list: do you want to meet someone from a specific area of a company? Maybe someone you have a contact in common with? You will miss a lot of these if you aren’t going through the list on the event app before you go and again when you get there (for those folks who procrastinate).
■ Tradeshow layout: know it, study it, map it by aisle marking where you need to make a stop. Make one well planned route. Be there at ribbon cutting, then go straight to the back and work your way forward. No standing in line for you.
■ Meals: sit at a table where you don’t know anyone and make new friends at every meal. It also saves on meal costs and you may just learn something from the speaker.
■ Other happenings: this includes silent auctions, receptions, workshops, and so on. You may have to give your email address to get invited to a private reception, but is that so bad? You wanted to meet the host company anyway.
Spring for the hotel the night of the last event day. While everyone else is trying to pack, stow luggage and make the airport, you will be at last day events where lines are shorter, and people are more inclined to talk longer. Order room service and arrive home tomorrow rested instead of exhausted in the wee hours. On your flight home, calculate your return and start your follow-up. If you didn’t get the return you needed, alter your plan or try a different event. Happy event-ing!