Creating and making the most of networking opportunities is a must. In the B2B and construction worlds, events with people and other businesses in your industry are a regular occurrence. Networking is about building trust and what do construction professionals know better than building? However, when it comes to large-scale events, standing out from the crowd can be a challenge for many marketers. At these tradeshows and conferences, you want to make sure you are spending your time well and with the right people. These are a branding and marketing opportunity – you need to have a plan in place.
Before the Event
Brand and business marketing before the tradeshow or event is a must. Sharing information about the event, your business and what you hope to gain can do wonders for your business. Construction companies need to focus on their pre-game strategy when it comes to event networking.
- Use social media to spread the word. For B2B and construction companies, event Twitter hashtags are great way to let your network know where you’ll be and why. LinkedIn Events lets you connect with others who will be there and you’ll be able to get a visual of people you want to meet.
- Plan out your day(s). Knowing what is on the agenda can help you map out a plan of attack – what speeches or dinners you have to be at, who you need to connect with, whom you have meetings with, etc. Leave yourself with some free-time; you never know what could come up.
- If you have a newsletter or blog, share your thoughts on the conference or tradeshow before it takes place. Let others know what you’re hoping to gain from the experience, whether it’s new connections or new ideas, and what you plan to contribute.
During the Event
While at the event, be friendly to everyone you meet. You never know who you may be talking to or what connections they have. It can be hard to stand out from a crowd and stack of company cards so how you handle each conversation is important.
- It’s in the cards. Some entrepreneurs suggest not carrying business cards so you can get someone’s information into your phone and give yours back right at the moment. However, it is your choice as others report success from always having one handy.
- Expect the unexpected. If there is an impromptu interview you want to use for later, an audio (or video) recorder can make sure you don’t miss a thing when you come back to it. You can generate blog or social media content from these so being prepared should be on your mind.
- Ask open-ended questions about their business or needs first. Figure out how your business can help them and provide a recommendation. Generic questions are just that: generic. Be original in your questions and have a conversation instead of delivering a sales pitch.
After the Event
Just as you would follow up with a lead, make sure you follow up with connections you’ve met at the conference. Often, the person you’re trying to connect with has met a dozen or more people and a follow up can make sure you’re not one of the ones they easily forget. What you do after the event is just as important as what you do while the event is going on.
- Ask to meet them for breakfast before the end of the conference or shortly after, if they’re in your area. Their dinners, or yours, may be booked or they may be exhausted from the long days. Dinner may be a tough sell due to scheduling or exhaustion from a long day.
- Have a quick response time. Follow up within 24 hours of your initial conversation to make sure they remember you. A phone call is your best bet for reaching out, not an email unless one’s requested.
Your best marketing tactics for a networking event are being genuine and providing a solution. If you can do these two things, you’ll be more successful in building meaningful conversations that lead to sales. Have a strategy and planned schedule in place so you can meet the connections you want while leaving enough time to meet with others you might not have thought of.
Author Bio: Erica Bell is a small business writer who focuses on topics such as direct marketing and how to start a business. She is a web content writer for Business.com.