Startup founders are always searching for opportunities to take their companies to greater heights and one of the most common ways, is to exhibit at or attend a conference.
In this series of articles, I will be explaining the different ways in which startups can equip themselves for a conference by diving the steps into 3 stages:
Before the conference, during the conference and after the conference
Let’s gets ready for the conference season!
Before the Conference:
1. Why are you attending this conference?
With media exposure and investor attentions comes the hefty price of exhibiting or attending a conference, and justifying the cost of that ticket or booth is important.
You have to ask yourself why you want to attend this conference? What do you want to get out of it? Is it coverage in the media? Is it fundraising? Is it exposure? or are the attendees of the conference your primary consumers?
Sit down with your team and your colleagues to find out how advantageous this opportunity is for the company and whether the cost associated with it is justified.
If you feel this:
Grab those tickets or booths now!
2. Attend Satellite Events
Once you have made the decision of joining the conference, it is time to connect to the different attendees prior to the conference. Often conferences are surrounded by satellite events*.
Since these satellite events are locally arranged meetups, they are the perfect way to learn and get involved in the larger conversation and the community. They allow you to access more people through smaller gatherings.
* What are satellite events?
Typically, at any conference, there are planned or impromptu events for discussions about various issues related to the theme of the conference. These are called satellite events. They can be in the form of networking events, discussions, workshops focused on content, themes and ideas from the main meeting. You can usually find them on the conference website or app.
3. Out of office reply
While you’re at the conference, you will not be able to reply to your emails as frequently as you do on a normal day.
You can manage your clients and customers’ expectations through an out of office reply notifying them that you’ll be replying slower than you normally do.
Template for OOO reply:
Thank you for your email. I will be out of the office from [date] to [date] and will have limited access to email/will not have access to email.
If your question can wait, I’ll be responding to the emails I missed when I return on [date]. If this is urgent, please contact [name] at [email], and he/she will take care of you.
4. Prepare Simple Conversation Starters
Conferences can be overwhelming, especially if you’re an introvert like I am. However, I have found this to be very useful in approaching new faces and companies.
Here are some examples and variations of questions I usually approach people or am approached with at conferences, feel free to use them:
Also Read: 8 events you shouldnt miss in Asia this week
1. What brings you here? (Here, in this case, could be referring to the city or the conference)
2. Is this your first time at [the conference/the city]?
3. Why did you decide to attend [conference name]?
4.After a talk: What did you think of the talk?
5. Satellite Events: Why did you come tonight?
6. Exhibitors: What sets your business apart from the crowd?
7. Exhibitors (Job Fair): What would a day in [the company] look like?
Try and come up with a question that makes you feel comfortable but always remember to keep it simple, short and professional (given the style of the conference).
Update. Update. Update.
After the first few years of your career, LinkedIn becomes your online CV.
Update the different sections in your profile, especially the elements related to the company you are going to the conference for!
6. Company Brochures
Company brochures are extremely important (be environmentally friendly and print fewer copies), not only for marketing your products and services offline but to also guide you in your pitch.
Although brochures are primarily used by booths at conferences, you can make use of them while talking to different exhibitors.
A quick tip: Brochures can also be a good ice breaker at conferences!
7. Craft the Perfect Pitch
Brand Pitch: Your vision, mission and solution.
You should be able to answer these questions with your branded pitch:
1. What are you building?
2. Who are you building it for
3. How are you building the company and the brand?
4. What should the customers be expecting?
5. What is the problem that you are solving?
6. How are you solving it?
7. What makes your solution unique?
Read the 10 Tips for Successful Pitching to craft the perfect pitch!
Elevator Pitch — (Duration: 60 seconds): After preparing your brand pitch, do not forget to prepare a shorter version of it in order to be able to adapt to different situations!
Make sure your company website is up to date with smooth user experience.
For instance, if you are looking for customers at the conference, make sure they are able to sign up for your newsletter or check out your services.
The process should be smooth as it might be their first interaction with the company.
9. Research. Research. Research.
Research attendees, exhibitors, media and speakers that are attending the conference.
How does this help? It allows you to
1. Schedule meetings in advance with people you want to meet
2. Identify the panels, keynotes, workshops or talks that you want to attend.
3. Map out who you want to talk to during the conference, helping to create some structure.
10. Have Schwag ready and lots of it!
People love collecting schwag/freebies at conferences, regardless of what it is. It attracts attendees, acts as a conversation starter and also allows you to connect directly with your target audience!
Also, you might throw a brochure but you won’t throw out a free schwag.
It isn’t extremely expensive to produce branded freebies and every time the consumer uses the product, they will remember the brand!
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Image Credit: Product School