Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to attend dozens of industry conferences. Some large, some small, and mostly worthwhile. My first real conference as an entrepreneur was the Internet World trade show at the Javits Center in NYC in December 2001. With 50,000 attendees and 300 vendors, I was blown away by the size and scale. At the show I met the company that licensed our product and indirectly financed our next product, which ultimately helped make the company successful — it was a big inflection in the lifecycle of the startup.
Here are five recommendations for teams at conferences:
- Make a plan with goals in advance of the conference
- Divide up roles and responsibilities, and ensure all team members are on the same page
- Schedule meetings with prospects, customers, and partners a month in advance (it’s a great sales tactic to say that you’re in town for the conference and would enjoy stopping by to meet)
- Enforce a “no sit together rule” whereby team members divide up during sessions so as to meet more people (the main point of tradeshows is to build relationships, so hanging out with coworkers during show time doesn’t help that)
- Debrief at the end and come up with a list of to start, stop, and continue doing at future conferences
Even in the digital age, building relationships face-to-face is critically important and conferences, when done well, are a great way to do it. Put time into the conference before and after the event to make it worthwhile.
What else? What are some other recommendations for teams at conferences?