By Lyndsey Hall
People love getting their money’s worth, especially in business; whether it be squeezing every last penny out of a deal, or taking any opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors and influencers. Taking a day out of the office can be expensive, especially if you’re paying for the privilege. But it is important every once in a while to take time out to work ON your business, not IN your business. So, how can you make sure you’re getting your money’s worth for every hour you spend at business and networking events instead of in the office? We’ll show you how:
Arrive early and stay late
Squeeze every last minute out of the event – if you’re rushing off to afternoon meetings or taking calls during the coffee breaks then you won’t get the most out of the opportunity. Arrive early, chat with the organisers about the other attendees and ask for introductions to anyone who might be a good contact. Be one of the last to leave, you never know who you might miss out on meeting if you sneak off before the end.
Listen and learn
Some of the best speakers in the world are also incredibly successful business people, so it is well worth listening to their talks and trying to absorb their knowledge. It can be overwhelming to look back at your notes after a full day of speeches, and more often than not we don’t act on anything we’ve heard because we’re too busy when we get back to the office. Try to take down one or two key lessons from each speaker, and by the end of the day you should have 5 or 6 simple things that you can implement or discuss with your team on your return.
Mingle, mingle, mingle!
Talk to the other attendees over coffee and lunch. Visit every exhibition table and introduce yourself. Even if you don’t think your businesses could work together right now, you could be missing out on an opportunity if they know someone who needs your product or service. Or even vice versa! If you know someone who could benefit from connecting with them take their card, they’ll be much more responsive to you in future if you did them a favour once, and you never know what might happen down the line.
Don’t just bring enough business cards – that’s a no brainer – bring interesting and different business cards that will get people talking. It’s always better to hand your card over face-to-face and have a real conversation with each person, but in a pinch leave a couple of cards on each table. If they’re eye-catching enough, people will pick them up and talk to each other about them. This can be a great option if you’ve taken our next piece of advice…
If exhibition space is available, and you happen to have a roller banner collecting dust in the garage, take a stand. Sometimes, it can help to have props when speaking to people about your business, especially if you’re nervous; so if you’re someone who prefers to have a stack of leaflets or a portfolio of your latest work to help you discuss your offerings then exhibiting is a great idea. Most events will let you slip away from your stand to listen to the guest speakers, so you won’t miss out by standing in an empty corridor in between the breaks. It’s also great for networking with other exhibitors – you’ve already got something in common!
Take to the stage
At our annual conference, we offer our exhibitors the opportunity to get up on stage and present their business to the crowd for five minutes. This is an invaluable opportunity for any business, as your business cards and exhibition stand may not hit the mark every time and there could be a number of people in attendance who would have never heard of you otherwise. (Those are the people who spend the coffee breaks glued to their phones and who dart off before the afternoon session.) If you are given the chance to speak to the attendees for a few minutes, take it, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.