‘Tis the season…
As the nights draw in and we encounter the horrible sight of Christmas decorations being put up before it’s even December, spare a thought for the poor Business Developers and Networkers out there.
We are a hardy and positive bunch, but for us October and November are two of the busiest months of the year for networking events and conferences. There are awards evenings too and business breakfasts, however the demands from the company are no different-
“Bring in new enquiries, convert them, sign them…oh and by the way, if you could just travel the country on regularly delayed trains and stand as exhibitors, speak at conferences, chat with contacts over canapes and wine, sleep poorly in a hotel bed, that would be great!”
It can of course be a lot of fun, and a very positive way to spend those autumnal days- meeting interesting people, creating new links, catching up with old friends. But it’s tiring, and you are hit with huge amounts of new information, so I thought that a few hints and tips for those caught up in the seasonal merry-go-round might be useful.
Choose your events carefully-
If you’re considering attending something you’ve been to before, then review as accurately as possible whether you got value from going last time. It’s not just about new enquiries from those events either – ask yourself what the quality of those enquiries was. Did any of them actually convert, or were they just politely enquiring so that they could grab a cool piece of merchandise?
If it’s a new event you’re considering, speak to your network of contacts about their experience. Did they find it to be good value? Are the speakers or other attendees the right kind of thing for you?
The temptation is to go to everything, but it’s far better to be picky, and spend what can be significant sums on going to the most productive occasions.
Be realistic about the time you have available-
Being at events every single day may feel a positive and productive way to proceed. However, you will still have your day job. You will also want to maximise the contacts made at each event. If you are constantly on the road and attending conferences on a daily basis, then you are unlikely to carry out the necessary follow up activities to maximise the output from the event. Build yourself in some desk days by creating a schedule which shows all of the things you are to attend, and then block off some time for emailing, admin and the day job.
Be organised before you attend-
Consider whether there are other exhibitors or speakers you’d like to get to know. Don’t just spend hours talking to your existing contacts – go out and make new ones. Ask your existing contacts to help with that, and you can do the same for them. “Is there anyone here you can introduce me to that you think would be good for me to meet?”
If you have existing clients attending, ask them for any friendly referrals they might make. See if there are any of your supplier allies there that you think would be good for your client to meet. Karma marketing at work.
Spread the word through social media-
It’s good to let people know in advance that you’ll be at an event. We have had firms come and find us because they had seen we were going to attend on Twitter or LinkedIn. And be original with your Twitter posts…I know it’s easy to just post a picture of your stand and table looking all nice, but is it going to gain people’s attention?
General bits from an old BDer-
- Look after your health. It’s exhausting to be constantly up till all hours, and then awake early for trains to the next event. The odd glass of water and early night works wonders.
- Take a pen and when you’ve exchanged cards and the person has gone, write a quick note on the card about how you intend to follow up and what the conversation was about.
- Most of all – enjoy it… if you’re in Business Development this is your raison d’etre. Make friends, make contacts, mingle and have fun! Just take it from me, do not under any circumstances drink six glasses of mulled wine…the breakfast briefing the day after that was….challenging!
Alex Holt, Business Development Director
The Cashroom Ltd