Attending a Conference? Growing your Business using face to face Networking

Growing your business using face to face networking: Attending a Conference

I hope everyone is doing well on this Sunday afternoon…the weather here in Canada is turning up the heat finally we are out of the freezer although our winter this year was more like a fridge (Mild cold).  Enough about the weather, I recently attended a conference which I thought it was very successful.  Returning home, when I was chatting with the passenger beside me, I had time to digest the “why’s, do’s and don’ts” here is some thoughts for you to consider

Any time I thought about a conference, or any marketing effort for that matter, first thing comes to mind is cost associated of attending the event, and I always remember my boss’ words ringing in my ears: how much did we dollars did we generate from this event? Was it worth it (Meaning, did you come back with orders) etc… These for the novice can cause pressure, pressure which could result in acting frantically in these events. Relax, your boss is doing his job and watching his cost, he doesn’t want to see you going on a useless business trip (rightly so) and I think you agree with him/her as well.

Most people will go to conference with 2 states of minds:
1-      Hyperactive
2-      Passive

I want to make sure we all understand this idea: Going to a conference to pick up a purchase order and come back to the office to become a hero, (90% of the time) this is not true and you will disappoint yourself.  I am sure we all agree to that. I go to conferences to build allies, to find friends and partners, I want to find people that we can get along and build a long lasting friendship. Wow some would say, where is the PO where is the sale. If you look to build allies, you will convey the message that you are a good person, and you are trust worthy and people want to connect with you therefore they would feel comfortable giving you business. And if you go attend a conference and you are frantically running / bouncing from conversation to another like a humming bird trying to find where the cash is, people will see through this and no one would want to talk to you (90% of the time) and if they did, this will not cause a long lasting relationship (90% of the time again). Obviously by now you are wondering why I am using the 90%…well in my world the 80/20 rule is more like 90/10 for now, of course this is subject to change 🙂

Here is what I recommend:
1-      Create a business development / sales plan
2-      Include more than one initiative in this sales plan:
       a.       Conferences
       b.      Phone
       c.       Email
       d.      Other types of networking

Yes that’s right, sales jobs are hard work, and if you think you will get a sales job and few months later with minimal efforts you will be behind the wheel of a shining Maserati (90% of the sales people will fail and that’s not a prediction, this is reality).

Once you selected the Conferences you like to attend, make sure you repeatedly attend the same events. Why?
1-      Stay on the message
2-      Prove that you are here for the long term not just show-up once and move on
3-      Build supporters and allies (this is very important)
4-      Allow people to get to know you personally
5-      Allow the market to become familiar with the product and services you represent
6-      This will give time for you to train your contacts to become your advocates

Here is some ideas that you can prepare yourself give yourself objectives for every conference like this:

1-      Number of conversation I want to have during the event, for me I use the number 100

2-      Read the attendee list, get familiar with the names persons and companies
3-      Train your memory to remember the names
At the end of the day it is a mathematical game, the more conversations you have the closer you get to your objecties.

Another message and recommendation I give you, remember this really well, I can’t emphasise this enough: Treat everyone you meet with respect, it doesn’t matter what they do who they work for, or what company they represent. And Please BE genuine
I had to use my pic LOL

Why do I state something that is so obvious as this: Because, I’ve seen many cases where the sales person thinks himself so high and mighty and before they speak to someone they make sure to glance at the conference badge of the person to pick-up the company and the title, then they make determination if this is worthy conversation or not. I consider this disrespectful and counter effort to the objective we have set for an event: build relationships, grow champions etc… Why some sales people do that, allow me to criticize for a second: Sales people (some) are lazy, they want to have one conversation (the obvious conversation) and close a deal, they want to excerpt a minimal effort to come home with a PO. Again this is indeed counter effort to the objective we set earlier and I am sure my readers are not like that.

I can tell you that is based on experience many times I have conversation with people which I thought there is no business connection there, but I am always surprised of the boomerang effect that a year or 2 later that conversation which created a friendship and personally connection have created a business connection. I truly believe, friends will help each other, if we process sales like thoughtlessly, without feelings or personal emotional investment, these are relationship that don’t last very long and the likelihood of producing results are very slim.

On the management side we need to recognize the long sales cycle that our product and services are characterized by, and we need to give our BD and sales team the runway to build the momentum in the marketplace. What’s in it for management/ownership?

Obviously Cash…

1-      Loyal clients
2-      Long lasting relationships
3-      Much high degree of positive reputation
4-      This ultimately generated better revenues and profitability

 I close my blog this afternoon by saying, I am very excited for the future, and I hope everyone of my readers feels the same. I wish you a successful week ahead.
Happy hunting

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