7 Tips for Getting More from Industry Events

7 Tips for Getting More from Industry Events

We’re now in Dallas!

Agile CRM has grown like gangbusters since we started in 2013, passing the $3 million annual revenue mark earlier this year. As we grow, we’re expanding our involvement at industry events. Dallas is our new home base for managing these events in the U.S. and North America.

Dallas has one the most vibrant startup communities outside of Silicon Valley, is an up-and-coming tech corridor, has the second largest concentration of tech workers in the U.S., and can easily reach events from San Francisco to New York. It is a natural location for a growing tech firm like ourselves, which is why we’ve made it one of our homes.

As we ramp up for more events in the U.S. starting later this year, it is a good time to share some important keys for getting the most out of industry event attendance. Just showing up at industry events is not enough; you also must have a solid plan for capturing and nurturing opportunities while at these events.

Here are seven tips for getting more from industry events and confabs.

1. Promote Through Social Media

You get more mileage from industry events if customers, partners, suppliers and prospects all know about your event involvement before, during and after an event. Talking about the events you’re attending via Twitter and other social media channels creates buzz for your business, builds credibility and alerts partners of opportunities for face time with your firm, among other benefits.

While many companies will make a one-off announcement before an event, and again after an event has finished, a secret of successful event attendance is also broadcasting your involvement during the event for others in attendance and those who could not make it.

2. Send Invitations

Buzz and awareness doesn’t usually come by accident. If you want easier networking and anticipation of your involvement at an event, connect with others attending the event beforehand by sending out email or even printed invitations to meet or stop by your booth. You also should notify customers and prospects located nearby the event for potential meetings on-premise and outside the event. Creating a list of who to contact is easy if you’re using a contact management system such as Agile CRM for your business.

3. Develop a Lead Nurture Strategy

Come to every industry event with a lead nurture strategy already in place. Making connections is the point of most industry events, but if you don’t have a lead nurture strategy in place you’re not maximizing this opportunity.

You might define and set up an automated nurture campaign in Agile CRM for potential customers you meet at an event. When you add a contact in Agile CRM on the show floor, for instance, the contact might receive an email with a relevant white paper you just released, a followup email two weeks later, and a call from your sales team soon thereafter (all automated except the call).

4. Use Lead Scoring

By lead scoring your connections at the point of contact, you also can develop several lead nurturing tracks based on whether the event contact is hot, cold, a VIP, or other criteria important to your business. You might plan on hosting an exclusive, invitation-only dinner during the event, for instance, and with lead scoring your nurturing campaign will know whether to invite this contact.

Lead scoring mixed with automation and a proper lead nurturing strategy is the epitome of selling like a Fortune 500 company. It is a level of operational sophistication that pays almost immediate dividends, especially related to industry events.

5. Target Important Connections in Advance

Preparation matters almost as much as having a good product.

Before you attend an industry event, take the time to map out important connections you know will be at the event, as well as your strategy for engaging with them casually but with purpose. This can be done by scanning the list of panels, talks, workshops and vendors attending the event, then entering the important contacts from these panels and talks into your CRM and making notes on your approach for each.

Add an event-specific tag to each contact you hope to meet, and with this tag you can quickly see who to target and prioritize better on the show floor.

If you aren’t doing this targeting, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

6. Get Smart with Your Booth

If you have a booth at the event, do a dry run; set up your booth in the office several days before the event to ensure that all your material is ready, you have the supplies you need, and your concept makes sense. This is an obvious tip, but it often goes overlooked.

Also consider giving out food at your booth. While trinkets with your company’s logo are essential, you’ll get far more attention if you also offer some form of food or drink. Everyone likes free food, and some statistics have shown that food giveaway increasing booth interest by up to 70 percent.

So does meaningful prizes and product discounts. Think beyond pens with your logo, and instead bring real value to your display through gifts, discounts and food that attendees actually want.

7. Follow Up Immediately

There are tiers of networking awesomeness. Getting a business card is nothing. Sharing a meaningful conversation is something. Reaching out after a meeting is good. Sending a follow-up email within a few hours of a first meeting is gold.

You want a connection that leads somewhere. You want to stand out. So what you want is gold, which means you should prioritize contact followup at industry events. You do this by entering new contacts into your CRM at the point of contact from your mobile phone, and by having automated lead nurturing campaigns ready to help.

As we build up our Dallas office and prepare for a number of U.S. industry events in the coming months, these are some of the tactics we’ll be employing. Tell us about some of your best industry event tactics—and if you’re in the U.S., keep an eye open for our Dallas-based sales, marketing and customer success teams. We also have promising job openings for our Dallas office. So if you think you have it in you to be an industry expert, please apply here.

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Peter Kowalke

Peter Kowalke is a journalist and editor who has been covering business, technology and lifestyle trends for more than 20 years.

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