Trade Shows and Business Conferences (Part 2)

May 24, 2013

By business conference, I mean a meeting which is not a trade show, where the prime focus is one or a series of large halls with exhibits, booths and even tables. By business conference, I mean a meeting where the focus of the conference is meeting other attendees and attending speeches, workshops, seminars and the like.

For that reason, preparing to work such a meeting can sometimes be very different from preparing to work a trade show. But these meetings should be worked and can be done so successfully

The first thing you have to realize is that your conference badge tells people who you are. This is not a problem, but you do not have to make it easy for people to determine who you if you do not want them to do so. Enough said.

The next step is to find any sessions which are being run by or feature presenters from any of your competitors or other important targets, such as suppliers or customers. Make sure that you or someone else attends these meetings and gets all of the materials that are handed out. Be prepared to take pictures of any presentation materials that are particularly interesting if there are no handouts. This of course assumes that there is not a prohibition against using a camera.

At the end, make sure that you go to the front of the room and join in any group gathering around a speaker or presenter from one of your targets. Do not expect that this person will answer questions from you. Rather listen to what he or she says in response to the questions and comments that others raise. What these group is doing is building up, possibly inadvertently, the ego of the speaker by making him/her feel important. That can result in the speaker lowering his/her guard and perhaps speaking more frankly then they would like to do. Listen carefully and then leave.

If you sit down at a table, say for breakfast or lunch, and there are representatives of the competitor there, introduce yourself. By introducing yourself, you are putting yourself in charge. Since you spoke first, it is perfectly appropriate for you to ask questions. Minimize the questions. Rather put out open-ended statements and hopefully listen to others ask your competitor questions that help you. Never react to whatever your competitor says. If they make a joke about your firm, simply smile. Do not respond to it. Your job is to listen — not to talk.

More on business conferences next week.

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