February 2016 marked the time of year when Emerald would, once again, make our annual venture to the Mobile World Congress – this year held in Barcelona.
The world’s largest mobile networking event can be a difficult and daunting target. So what can you do to maximise your time, and make the most of every flicker of opportunity?
1) Arrive early.
An early arrival is key for many reasons. Firstly, it is vital to ensure that you secure an advantageous spot in the exhibition. It helps to establish a ‘winning mind-set’ among your team members attending the event and – quite obviously – the earlier you arrive, the more time you will have to interact with potential candidates and clients.
2) Talk to everyone, and make steps to keep in touch.
Every conversation, however brief, presents the possibility of opportunity. Whether it’s closing immediate business or developing a relationship for the future, it’s vital to keep an open mind and communicate with as many people as possible. Don’t forget to take down contact details or exchange business cards – this could prove valuable for future networking endeavours.
3) Consider transport.
Whilst it sounds simple, this one piece of advice can save crucial time from being wasted – particularly during events spanning several days. By choosing accommodation within walking distance of the event, you save time which can then be spent on an increased number of those crucial conversations throughout the day. However, staying slightly further away also has its benefits – you never know who you might meet on the journey! Our team had the pleasure of sharing a taxi with the Director Intellectual Property & Competition at Ericsson, and a member of the Marketing team at Aptilo. It’s important to remain optimistic and make the most of every conversation – you may not know who you’re talking to.
4) Bring the team!
It’s a good idea to bring as many colleagues as possible to an event; taking finance, time and resource constrictions into account. Working as part of a team is always favourable – particularly if your employees specialise in different areas, as they will be able to offer prospective contacts more in-depth information on your business and services. Aside from this, increased presence at the event means more conversations, which will hopefully lead to more business leads. Our team for the Mobile World Congress consisted of Adam DeSanges (Company Director), Alex Shelton (Regional Director META), and Lewis Bradbury (Business Development Manager – Fixed & Mobile BU) – this trio represented a cross-section of our business and offices, and allowed us to maximise opportunity at the event.
5) Take detailed notes.
You will speak to so many people at an event or exhibition, that it’s vital to maintain a record of not only who you have spoken to, but also key points of discussion. Following the event, this will undoubtedly prove a vital resource in gauging who to follow up with, and in what way. Due to the quality of notes that the team took at MWC, they have been able to capitalise on their networking activities to close a number of business deals since the conference.
6) Explore alternative follow-up methods.
Telephone calls and e-mails are no longer the only way of keeping in touch with people and businesses you meet at an exhibition. Social media has provided us with a wealth of other avenues to get in touch with people on a business level, in a less direct way – particularly those who do not present immediate business opportunities, but may be good contacts for the future. Connect with people on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, or even e-mail them a blog link that you think they might find interesting: all of these are unobtrusive ways of making your presence known and staying in contact.
7) Preparation is key.
Preparation is undeniably the most crucial tool for any event or exhibition. Make sure that your team has clear goals in mind, and that they are targeting the right businesses. Also, ensure that it is obvious to your network that you will be attending the event – a simple message on your Social Media profile, or a note in your e-mail signature, allows you to notify your existing connections of your attendance, and potentially gives you a head start on organising meetings. Emerald utilised both of these tools to good effect prior to the conference.
We hope you find these suggestions helpful – what other tips would you give to a team or organisation attending a business conference in the technology sector?
The next stop for Emerald is Cloud Expo Europe, at ExCeL London on 12th and 13th April 2016. Fancy coffee and a chat with one of our team? Tweet us, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, to book an appointment – whether you’re a potential client or candidate, we’d love to make contact.