Let’s be honest: in-person events are a complete shot in the dark, whether you’re the one throwing the event or you’re just an exhibitor or attendee. They tend to fit into one of two categories: absolutely amazing or amazingly atrocious. So how can one ensure that an event goes well? Let’s look at it from both angles and find out how to leave an event knowing that your time was well-spent.
Here’s six simple tips for coordinators and another six for attendees to help maximize conference and trade show takeaways.
For Event Coordinators
- • Swag - If you can swing it, bags, portfolios, notepads, etc. with your logo can leave a lasting reminder of your attendees’ time at your event. Even if it’s a snack and a bottle of water, they will find value in receiving anything upon registration. Remember that they paid to attend, and experiences don’t always add up in the modern consumer mindset.
- • Badges - Easy enough, but vitally important to networking. Name badges are also often used as mementos, so the nicer the badge holder the better. Putting your logo on a lanyard goes farther than you’d think once your attendee returns to the office.
- • Networking Opportunities - Matching sessions and speed networking can be a really cool chance to meet new people—just don’t try this if you’re not prepared to create and manage the event. We can tell you from experience that it’s harder than it seems! Fret not if you’re not capable though, because coffee breaks and other small networking events between sessions are also an easy way to encourage conversation.
- • Design - One of the worst things you can do is create an event that’s physically confusing or unmanageable for attendees. Event space layout and signage are key to avoiding frustration and encouraging networking. Don’t make sessions that are a quarter mile apart. Nobody likes to run in businesswear.
- • Sponsorship Opportunities - Not only are they a great way to raise your own ROI for your event, sponsorships are a fantastic way to create new connections of your own with your prospects. In addition, it can help you get perks for your attendees, like free WiFi in the event space or more swag for your bag.
- • Social Media - It’s important to have a strong social media presence before, during, and after your event to make a footprint in your industry. Make sure you have a hashtag that’s not being used elsewhere that you can put on swag, signage, and more. Encourage attendees to use the hashtag, as it will help promote your event while allowing them to network digitally.
- • Business Cards - The simplest thing is often the thing we forget. Make sure you have snazzy business cards, and plenty of them, heading into any event. Consider ones that think outside the box, so that when your prospects get home they stand out from the rest of the stack.
- • LinkedIn - Have LinkedIn ready on your mobile device so that you can instantly connect with prospects and vendors you intend to contact later. It’s a great way to establish a quick permanent connection with them.
- • Stray From the Pack - If you’ve come to an event with other members of your organization, break away and network on your own. You’ll all cover more ground, but you’ll also be more likely to interact with strangers if you don’t have associates at your side. You’ll also be far more approachable, and miss less chances to connect.
- • Use Social Media - Be sure to engage with the event on Facebook and Twitter, and use the event’s hashtags to establish your presence at the event. This will associate you and your organization with the event, and it will often help you connect with others also posting on social media from the event.
- • Follow Up - After the event, don’t let those business cards fall into a black hole. Set aside time to follow up with prospects and potential vendors that you met with in order to establish rapport. Make sure to follow up again in a week or so, don’t just send an email and forget these folks.
- • Share - Bring home anything you can to your colleagues. Share your experiences and anything you learned that might be of value to those within your organization. This will not only help prove you spent your time well, but it will also encourage your leadership to continue sending employees to industry events.
Are you ready to roll out to your next event in style? Then check out Advantage’s upcoming conference! The R&D 100 Conference is happening at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando on November 14-15. Leaders from the R&D community will gather to exchange brand-new ideas in innovation, technology transfer, and R&D strategies that will transform the future of R&D across industries. Find out more at www.rd100conference.com.