Here are seven tips, tactics, and strategies for maximizing your sales conference networking efficiency.
While a good sales conference can offer visitors a wide array of events, lessons, and other activities worth showing up for, everyone knows you got to a sales conference for one reason: Networking. If you want to get the most out of your trip to a conference, you need to be making new acquaintances and you need to leave a memorable, positive impression on as many people as possible. Going with the flow might catch you a few worthwhile networking opportunities if you have a natural talent for socializing, but to really optimize your sales conference networking experience you need preparation. Today we’ll help you with that preparation, by offering you seven tips, tactics, and strategies for maximizing your sales conference networking efficiency.
Know who the speakers will be, know what people will be talking about and what they are interested in. The more you can know about the events and the people who will be involved with the sales conference before you walk in, the more likely you are to have success in your networking. Research them like prospects–the only difference between this sale and others is the product: you.
If you can make contact with someone you’re looking to form a working relationship with BEFORE, the conference, even if it’s just a quick back-and-forth on Twitter or Facebook, do so. It’s something of an investment from the person–they’ve talked to you before, so they’ll talk to you again.
Don’t spend all your time hitting events, you won’t make any relationships with someone talking to an audience (or escaping one). If there’s somewhere speakers and other important figures might congregate between events, that’s where you want to be. You’ll also come across better in that context than you would as part of a crowd begging for attention.
Handing out your card is nice, but it’s easier and more effective to collect cards. Asking for someone’s card shows interest in them, not yourself. You want to stay away from a ‘ME ME ME’ mentality when you’re networking at a sales conference, for the same reason you don’t ramble on about your company when you’re making a sale.
Once you have someone’s card, you have a direct line for a follow-up; just don’t blow it when the time comes to make use of that line.
Don’t ask the same vapid questions every other person at the conference has asked. Definitely don’t ask about the weather. Ask something that shows knowledge of the individual and will make them think for a moment. If you did your research and thought about what you would talk about with your networking targets, this should be easy.
Don’t dress like a clown, but if you can add some flair to how you present yourself all the better. Just strike a balance–you want to be memorable, but not in a way that undermines your ability to form serious working relationships. No one trusts someone that’s too goofy.
Appearance is the lowest way to stand out, just below tacky overly fancy business cards. It can work, but it’s too risky and not very professional. Look for a unique approach, instead. The problem being that a ‘unique’ approach is hard to teach–you’ll have to think this up on your own.
No one likes being sold to. Especially at a sales conference where everyone is trying to sell something. You probably shouldn’t even bother with any pitches. You definitely don’t want to toss one out uninvited–cornering some poor speaker in an elevator’s rude AND ineffective. What you want to do is make them ask you what you have going on–then tell them. That means natural, meaningful two-way conversations.
Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 11+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and two daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day, tropical vacations and cottaging.