If you’re going to a business expos or conference, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to prepare yourself for success.
Here are ten ways that will help amplify your chances of success and actually have some fun in the process.
1) Ask for advice from company reps. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s usually the case that if you don’t ask a question during an interview or networking opportunity with a company rep, they may not know enough about your industry to give useful feedback. The more prepared you are with questions, the more likely they will be able to help (or at least point you in the right direction).
2) Network at the right events. Don’t go to a networking event where you will talk with a bunch of people who are doing very similar things that you’re doing, even if they’re all your friends. Go to an event with a specific plan and purpose in mind, such as a panel discussion on marketing or business strategy. That way, you’ll find new and different contacts and resources that will help you grow as an entrepreneur and build your business.
3) Attend business expos appropriate to your industry. You won’t get much out of a conference if your industry is unrelated to the content. Don’t waste your time or money on an event that’s not going to help you grow your business.
4) Be friendly and personable. Yes, it sounds counterintuitive because of all the times we’ve been told that we need to brand ourselves and project authority, but at a business expo or conference, you’ll find that people take you seriously if they think you’re nice, kind and empathetic—not just serious and professional.
5) Get out of the house! Many business owners do their work from home for a reason—they like the flexibility it affords them. A business expo or conference is a great opportunity to get out of the house, meet people and network in a new or different setting. It’s also a good way to get “away” from your home, your routine and all the distractions that can prevent you from doing your best work.
6) Prepare for the unexpected. It could be anything—a long line at the registration desk, needing to reschedule an appointment, or missing a meeting with a speaker. Expect the unexpected and be prepared for it.
7) Bring reading material that’s helpful but not too technical. Booklets or articles are great because they’re easy to digest even if you don’t have time to read them in their entirety during the expo itself.
8) Think of a few “go-to” questions to ask. They could be things like “What’s one tip you have for getting started in your industry?” or “What’s the one thing that most people do that they shouldn’t be doing in order to grow their business?” Use these questions as conversation starters, and you’ll find yourself with plenty of options for a good conversation starter.
9) Set aside time to walk around the expo floor before and after the events, even if it’s just for five minutes at a time. You never know who or what you might find!
10) Stop and enjoy the show. No one expects you to be working the whole time you’re at a business expo or conference. Take time to explore, enjoy the view and stop to take pictures (look for angles and interesting things that might not be so obvious at first glance).
It’s important to treat your business expo or conference experience as a fun adventure, not just a chance to get your work done. Be prepared, but don’t take it too seriously. In the end, you’re probably going to have a good time.