Big things happen at conferences. They are an important part of any industry and a great place to find new business partners, pick up new ideas, advice and encouragement. In preparation for Professional Beauty London 2014 back in February this year, I decided to create a framework of ideas to maximise my time and investment in the event. Some worked, some didn’t and some transformed my experience!
I have been to the Professional Beauty event many times, but this was the first time I attended as a visitor rather than as an exhibitor (with previous companies). Any event like this is a serious investment in your business. Some can be expensive just to attend, most are likely to require travel or accommodation expenses. All of them take you away from your business. You therefore need to make sure that your time is well spent and you squeeze every bit of value from the event that you can.
Below are the ideas that made the greatest difference for me, starting with what to do in preparation for an event. At the end of this article I have a downloadable check list to help with this process.
Before the Event . . .
1- Set Your Expectations
Define your next most important business goal. It could be to change or add to your product line, look for new treatments, increase retail sales, grow your team or build client loyalty. Whatever it is, write it down. I mean it, really write it down so you are focussed on that one thing.
2 -Take Two Kinds of Notes
You will never be able to remember every product, idea or person you come across, so you are going to have to take notes of some kind. Divide your notes in to two sections. On one section you will write down things that could help with your next most important business goal that you defined above. On the other half write down everything else you find interesting. I will explain why you need to do this later.
3 – Prepare your “Elevator Pitch”
Put simply this is your answer to the question “What do you do?” and it should take no more time than the average elevator ride (or lift ride if you are in the UK). It should be just enough to give the questioner an idea of what you do and be able to make the decision as to whether they want to know more. Make it interesting and unique in some way so the questioner has reason to be intrigued and seek to learn more.
4 – Do Your Homework
Take a look at the event website before you go. See who is going to be there and pinpoint those speakers, exhibitors or attendees that can help you with your No. 1 business goal. Make these your priority targets during the event.
5 – Have a Plan (but don’t stick to it)
To make the most of your limited time it is important to have a bit of a plan as to what seminars you want to attend, people you want to speak to or stands you want to visit. However, accept that events may not let you stick to it. Some of the best meetings and connections you make will happen by chance. If you get talking to someone interesting, don’t break off just because you had planned to make it to that seminar on client retention or demonstration of the latest facial treatments from your favourite product line. Genuine connections can often lead to far greater things than sitting through a seminar or presentation that you can probably watch on YouTube after the event.
6 – Harness the Power of Twitter
This one is huge. If you don’t already use Twitter then I advise you to get someone to show you the basics before you go to any event. Find out the event hashtag – it will be on the event website or literature – and enter this as a search term in your Twitter App. This provides an amazing real time source of information both before and while you are attending the event. Exhibitors, speakers, organisers and attendees will all use this hashtag to tell everyone what is happening, what to check out and where to go. I found out about more things from twitter while at the event than any piece of printed literature I was given.
The last tip about twitter was the best way to find out about the other meetings or evening events people were attending, where they were and who was going. These gatherings proved to be some of the best value experiences of the whole weekend and they weren’t technically even part of the actual event.
In part two of this article I will expand on my twitter event strategy, plus I will give you all the rest of my tips for how to get the most out of the event while you are there!
I have prepared a handy downloadable worksheet with even more detail in it for you to use to maximise your attendance of any event which you can get just by clicking here!