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9 Tips to Make the Most of CP Expo Before, During & After

Helpful Tips

The event season is in full swing! Amy Bailey, founder of Unusually Unusual Consulting, recently sat down with me for a session on events with the Alliance of Channel Women, where we delved into our top tips for using events to expand your network.

Events − and in particular, trade shows − are a great opportunity for businesses to showcase their products and services, meet potential clients, and build relationships with industry professionals. But with so many people and businesses present, it can be overwhelming to make meaningful connections. 

[Editor’s Note: Kathryn Rose will lead the channelWise Coaching Café at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo. Its goal is to provide MSPs and vendor/suppliers with live one-on-one sessions with experts at the event to help them achieve their goals and grow their businesses. It will take place May 3. Sessions are free for attendees, but registration is required. Go here to register and learn more about the Coaching Café.]

Amy and I are networking veterans; I call myself a gentle stalker, but in all seriousness, if you’re going to take time from your business at all to attend events, you might as well make the most out of them.

Here are some of our top networking tips to make the most out of the events you attend:

Before the Event

Know your purpose. Be sure you understand why you decided to attend the the first place. Is it to generate new opportunities? Connect with others in the industry? Or another reason?  Also, keep in mind your ideal customer profile — if you’re going to the event to attract new business, which companies are your target customers? Who in those companies are the decision makers? Will they be at the show?  Knowing these can help set you up for success and keep you on task while you’re there.

Know the venue. Most events put their exhibitor map online so you know exactly where your potential customers will be. Also, if there are any areas of the hall set aside for people to have meetings, know that too so when you are there you can let folks know exactly where you will meet them. Some venues have Starbucks or other coffee shops, but they may be nowhere near the main conference, so you’ll want to check before you go. 

Use your pre-show time wisely. One of the greatest things about events today is that they have apps that you can use to connect with people who are attending the event prior to the show.  For example, the minute the SwapCard app for the Channel Partners Conference & Expo opens, I go into the app and start networking. I know my ideal customer profile and who I want to meet with, and I start sending requests. I also go to LinkedIn and connect with each and every one of the people who I might want to meet with. My main customers are vendors/suppliers and the decision makers may be busy at the show with their own meetings, but by reaching out to them on the app and connecting with them on LinkedIn, I now have two ways to get in touch with them before, during or after the event. 

Prepare your pitch. Once you have your plan of who you want to chat with while you’re there have your “intro-mercial” ready.  Be prepared to give a 30-second overview of you and your business. Being prepared will make you more confident and help you make a great first impression.

Keep your head up. Amy talked about how when you’re at the show, everyone wears their badge pretty much all the time, so don’t miss opportunities to network in the line for Starbucks or in the elevator. You have a captive audience, so make sure you use that time to your advantage.  

Bring some collateral. Along with business cards (yes, people still use them), Amy suggests you have some postcards printed with your company’s information on them.  You can even put a QR code on there that has a direct link to schedule a meeting.  It’s a memorable way to introduce yourself, and if you’re nervous about networking or sticking to your script, it’s a good prompt for you to break the ice.

During the Show

Attend networking events. Most events offer a variety of networking opportunities, such as cocktail hours, luncheons and dinners. Some may say by invite-only, but we find unless there is a hard limit to the number of attendees, if you ask nicely, many times you can get a coveted invite. Attend these events and use them as an opportunity to meet new people, exchange ideas and build relationships.

Use social media. Beyond connecting with people, attending events can help with visibility for your company. Attend sessions and you can take a picture with the speakers, or take a picture of the speaker and write a post on LinkedIn and give your opinion on the topic. Write a wrap-up post daily and provide your insights. Know the event hashtags and tag the event organizers and appropriate people to get more reach on your posts.

Follow up. I can’t tell you how many people skip this step. Amy suggests even planning your follow-up beforehand. If you know you’re meeting with someone, have the follow-up email ready to send before you go. After the event, you simply go in and update the email with exactly what you talked about, and next steps. Take notes during your meeting on your phone or in a notebook on follow-up steps and then execute.  More opportunities are lost in the follow up than anywhere else.

Attending events can be a great way to build your network, but it takes effort and strategy to make the most out of it. By following these networking tips, you'll be able to connect with new people, learn from industry experts and potentially grow your business.

Kathryn Rose is founder of channelWise, the premier expert advice network for the channel ecosystem.


Channel Partners Conference & Expo