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24 Jul, 2012

Guru Guidance Tips: Trade Show Booth 101

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Read time: 1 minute, 39 seconds


The Scenario

With several years of experience, the mentee has an opportunity to represent his firm this year at both the annual SMPS National Build Business Conference and a major industry conference focused on his company’s target market. He asks the guru for tips on how to make the most out of his time at each conference. How should his approach differ for each? At this relatively early stage of his career, what goals could he realistically set for his time there? How would this change as he advances in his career?

Approach differs for each conference

  • Build Business facilitates professional development and networking and is a good place to look for teaming partners
  • Industry conferences provide continuing education and opportunities for client interaction with upper echelon end users and decision makers.

Setting realistic goals at an early career stage

  • Is the list of attendees available before the conference?
    • If so, can decide whom to target in advance, though this becomes more difficult with larger conferences
    • If not, reach out to existing network to get a sense for who else plans to attend
  • Have a plan for after the conference too
    • Divide new contacts into a large group that will just get a polite “nice to meet you” email and a small group that will get very specific follow-up
    • Schedule a debriefing with supervisors or develop a post-conference report to help keep professional focus and ensure that the firm knows its money was well spent

Changing approach as career advances

  • Get involved with the conference early by volunteering for the planning committee and/or as a presenter or moderator of a panel
  • Plan ahead and set up advanced meetings with clients and targets

Miscellaneous tips and strategies

  • Take advantage of orientation events, speed networking opportunities, and online attendee forums
  • Chat with contractors and competitors – people will share a lot of information, particularly if they have been successful lately
  • If possible, send a team to conferences – can cover more ground and get discounts on registration fees
  • If not able to attend a conference, offer to serve as a resource for technical staff who go. Attendees can send quick emails and texts from a session to get background information about a presenter or a particular client with whom they would like to try to connect.
Curious about the Guru Guidance Program? Get more info here. This is the second installment in this Guru Guidance Tips Series. Read Part 1 of the series.