As we discussed last month, industry events are a great place to gain visibility for your business, forge partnerships, and find prospective customers. But before you rush out the door, go over this event checklist of things you need to network productively.
- Business cards. Is the paper business card dead? Not yet, although people may prefer to grab your information off your email signature. If you’re attending an event, you should have plenty of traditional business cards handy to pass out to people you meet. If you only get a few seconds with someone important, you won’t have time to enter the information in your smartphone. Remember, whenever people give you their business cards, jot a few details on the back about the person to jog your memory later. Interested in digital business cards? Get an app like Intro that easily shares your card with others.
- Giveaways / freebies. Even if you’re just attending an industry networking event, be sure to keep some freebies in your laptop bag or car. Handing them out can give new contacts a visual reminder of your business.
- Helpful apps. Everyone has a favorite app, whether it’s something to help remember people’s names like Humin or a note-taking app like Evernote that can remind you what to do after the event. Don’t forget to check with the event organizers or sponsors to see if they have helpful app suggestions for you to download.
- Notes on seminars to attend and exhibits you want to see. Time is short at industry events, so do your research ahead of time. Find out who is planning to attend and make sure you sign up for the seminars and workshops most useful for your business.
- Social media. Remember to let everyone across your social media platforms know where and when the event you’re attending is taking place. Tag yourself and post photos of your arrival so other attendees know you’re there and ready to connect. When something special happens (you meet someone new or you find a new business idea), post that, too, so the next time you attend an event you’re the one people seek out.
- Plans to meet up with people you know. A few weeks (or days) before you attend, see if any business contacts also plan to attend. Carve out time for a quick cup of coffee or happy hour to reconnect.
- Calendar to set up meetings after. Make sure your mobile calendar syncs across all your device calendars. Before you leave the event, put in reminders to follow up with people you met and connected with.
- Backup power. You don’t want to be caught on low battery, so make sure you have a power boost or battery pack for your smartphone. It might be hard to find a plug right when you need it, so come prepared.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva's free TrendCast reports.