​Decided to take the plunge and buy a booth or ticket to a trade show or conference? Congrats! That’s a major first step to meeting hundreds of potential buyers ideal for your company in a short amount of time. Now it’s time to prepare, so you get the most from the experience.

You’ll meet hundreds of people, and it’s really difficult to have a meaningful conversation over the course of three days. The key to converting the people you meet is all in the preparation.

If you’re a speaker, you need one approach. If you’re a vendor, there’s another approach. And if you’re an attendee, there’s another approach. Over the next few posts I’ll cover each. Today we’ll start with the lowest cost of entry, but highest cost of time-the attendee.

As an attendee, there’s a lot of things vying for your attention. You have talks to attend, booths to check out, and of course other people to meet. How do you know what to do? The easiest method is to be prepared before you leave home.

It can be intimidating to approach strangers at an event and essentially sell what you’re doing. But, you don’t want to waste the opportunity you have at an event.

If you’re attending a conference, trade show, pitch event or meetup, there is a cost involved. You’re taking time away from creating your business and you might need to pay for food, transportation, lodging, travel and the event itself.

Approach the event like content marketing. You’re giving a lot of value upfront, and will convert after.

Research Attendees

Choose the events you attend carefully. This is a whole ‘nother topic, so let’s assume you’ve already chosen the right event for you.

Use your ideal persona. Who will be attending that matches the people you can help with your solution? Look up past and current attendee lists. The easiest way to do this is to join the mailing list.

Don't​ have a buyer's persona yet? Discover how to create your own in the Travel Technology Startup Quick-Start Marketing Guide.

From the list of attendees, choose ten people you want to meet. Follow the company on social media, set up Google alerts and join their mailing list. While at the event, make it a point to meet each of these people.

Choose Conversation Starters

It’s easier to start a conversation when you know the topic is relevant. From your research, craft five to seven conversation starters that appeal to all of the companies you plan to speak with. When you approach the representatives, you already know what to talk about!

You’ll demonstrate your expertise, thought leadership and understanding of the industry in under five minutes. You don’t want to start pitching your product. Instead, you want to have a valuable conversation that can invite future networking and conversation.

Follow-up with value

This is the #1 most important part of the strategy: Keep in touch. When you speak with attendees, offer to send them something of value after the conference. This should be related to the conversation you had with them. It can be a video, white paper, blog post, etc.

For each conversation starter you choose, create a “library” of three to five content pieces to send out. Keep in touch with valuable and useful information for a few weeks before bringing up the idea of using your product. You’ll stand out from the many sales pitches they’ll receive immediately after the event. 

Attending a live event with a game plan can result in a lot of new business for you. Prepare yourself for your next live event with this easy-to-follow checklist.

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