Industry trade shows and professional events are an excellent way to learn new skills, network with others, and revive your creativity. But, these events can also be overwhelming—with multiple tracks, different sessions to choose from, and long days filled with non-stop activities. Because most industry events come with a cost—time away from your desk, budget, travel, etc.—attendees must be sure they’re prepared ahead of time.
So, if you’re planning to attend a work event in the near future, keep reading. Today we teach you everything there is to know about B2B event preparation—so you can get the most out of your next trade show or industry event. Let’s get into it!
1. Pick your sessions ahead of time.
Because most large events offer several sessions at the same time, attendees must take a look at the event agenda ahead of time and plan exactly which sessions to attend. That way, you can pick and choose your entire day to strategically cover every topic you’re interested in.
If you wait until the day of, certain tracks may already be full or you might find yourself choosing the same types of sessions over and over. Instead, choose a variety of topics and speakers that will add value to your day-to-day profession.
2. Prepare some questions ahead of time.
Planning out your sessions ahead of time is just half of the battle. You should also consider jotting down a few questions or talking points related to the various speakers you’ll be seeing. In smaller sessions or break-outs, most events offer the opportunity to ask questions.
So, if something’s been bugging you, or not quite sure how to tackle your next big project—don’t be afraid to ask! Events and trade shows are an excellent opportunity to pick the brains of some of the best and brightest minds in your industry—take advantage of this, and come prepared!
3. Pencil in some downtime.
When you’re planning your schedule for your next corporate event, don’t forget to pencil in some downtime. This may seem like an odd point to make, but hear us out! You have to be up for your first session before 8 am and your schedule is jam-packed until the final party winds down at midnight—it’s exhausting!
Our point is this: Don’t feel like you have to say yes to every social gathering or event option. Truly ask yourself, do I want to go to the third cocktail party tonight, or do I want to take a nap before I go to a networking dinner. Remember, you have to be up early the next morning to do it all over again.
Do yourself a favor and take a couple breaks. You’ll thank yourself on the last day for not letting yourself get burnt out too early on.
4. Be prepared to take notes.
This may seem like another no-brainer, but it’s important. Whether you prefer to take notes on your laptop, your tablet, or the good old-fashioned way in a notebook—make sure you have what you need.
Remember, you don’t need to write down everything a speaker says—but often times, someone will mention a resource, a website, a book, or even an email address and you’ll wish you’d taken it down.
Another important point: Always ask for a speaker’s slide deck after the presentation. Most of the time the speaker or event host will have thought of this beforehand. But, after seeing presentation after presentation, they all start to blend together. You’ll be thankful to have access to each of the presentations you attended, and even those you missed, once you’re back in the office.
5. Branch out.
There is very little professional risk associated with events and trade shows. After all, by attending, you’re learning new skills, gaining exposure for your brand, and ultimately bettering yourself professionally.
For this reason, we encourage you to branch out a little—attend a session you’re interested in but wouldn’t normally go to, introduce yourself to a speaker at a social event, or give your business card to someone you connect with professionally.
Each of these “risks” gives you the chance to expand your horizons, meet new people, and get the most out of each event you attend. What do you have to lose?
6. Schedule time with specific vendors.
If you’ve attended a professional event before, you know how hectic it can be to navigate the trade show floor—especially at larger events. Don’t get sucked into the first booth that offers you a free t-shirt—instead, come prepared with a strategic approach.
Check out a map of the booths and vendors ahead of time. If there are any products or companies you’re interested in, see if you can schedule an appointment with them. Although not all vendors take appointments ahead of time, many are happy to do so!
With this approach, you’ll hit all the booths on your list, you won’t waste time standing around waiting for a rep to approach you, and you’ll still have extra time to grab a couple freebies!
7. Get some content out of it.
Now, maybe it’s because we’re in the business of marketing, but trade shows are a great way to generate some easy, informative content—particularly in the B2B space where you’re selling to companies who likely have similar interests. Think about all the great sessions you attend, there’s got to be a blog post in there somewhere.
Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
- 10 Key Takeaways from ABC Event
- 20 Important Tweets for ABC Event
- 10 Lessons We Learned at ABC Event
- The 10 Most Tweetable Quotes from ABC Event
- The Most Noteworthy Speakers from ABC Event
Don’t have enough content for a blog post? Send some pictures back to your social media coordinator! We promise they’ll be grateful!
8. Scan the attendee list for customers or prospects.
Last but not least, we recommend asking for a list of attendees ahead of time. Not all events will provide an attendee list, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Scan the list for customers or prospects and see if there’s anyone it would be beneficial to meet with while you’re both in the same place.
If you’re unable to get an attendee list, check event hashtags, social media groups, and even professional networking sites. That way, you have a good idea of who’s talking about the event. If you recognize any names or connections, reach out to them! Remember, even if you’re not sales, you’re always working to represent your company and make a good impression on customers or potential buyers.
Key Takeaways and B2B Event Preparation
Events are a fun way to meet other professionals in your space, generate new ideas, problem solve, and much more. After attending several of these events, you’ll fall into a routine and develop your own tips and tricks to get the most out of each experience.
But for those who are new to the game, relax and have fun! Use the points outlined above to prepare yourself ahead of time. You’ll be sure to have a great time and wow your colleagues once you’re back in the office.
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