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How to get intimate at an industry conference — it’s not what your thinking…

With all the brouhaha over conferences following the GSA situation, it makes the time you spend at conferences even more important.

There was a time just a few years ago when people would say that conferences were so 1990s — a relic of the past to be swallowed up by online interactions. That hasn’t proven to be the case — at all.

Marc Hausman is the President and CEO at Strategic Communications Group. He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER show that the challenge today is to use your conference time to get intimate.

Marc Hausman talks conference intimacy by cdorobek

Hausman says, “relationship builders must establish a close connection with a customer, prospect or partner to facilitate the scope definition, proposal and contract capture process.” In other words. If you want get that contract, or get that promotion you have to build strong relationships.

Hausman’s Three Prong Approach to Conference Intimacy:

  1. Connect with the conference organizers and demonstrate how I could bring value to the event as a speaker, promoter and attendee.
    You want to be seen as more than someone who merely scratches out a check for a registration badge. Promote the event to your network of relationships to build buzz and drive interest. Offer to speak on a panel and explain why this enhances the agenda.
  2. Invest the time pre-conference to prepare a sales game plan. Business contacts are defined by inequality. Identify the decision-makers on the roster of presenters. Ask your prospects if they plan to attend.
    And then study up. Review LinkedIn profiles and check out corporate Web sites. Know what you are going to say to a high value target when making contact at the event. It’s often a noisy, crowded and cluttered environment. You have ten seconds to make an impression.
  3. Follow-up…and fast. Some contend that a phone call or personal email within one business day of an introduction at an event is a symptom of desperation. Pay that no mind as it is silly talk.
    No one goes to an industry event to meet their next best friend. It’s a time for business…for education…and for networking.

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William Lim

One of my priorities for attending conferences is to strengthen the connection I have with people in my existing network who are also attending. I have found that often, a shared experience on the sidelines or after hours – dinner, coffee, cocktail hour, local sightseeing tour – away from “home” can form the basis for later conversations and future interactions. Otherwise sometimes I feel that connections in my network, even those geographically close to me, tend to stagnate over time. You think these are people you don’t need to pay much attention to because you can easily reach them anytime, and so you don’t. Conferences with a change of scenery can be a nice way to shake things up.