An Insider’s Checklist for Conference Success on a Shoestring Budget

Partnerships Manager, Cognitive ToyBox

This is the second of a three-part series on conferences. In my first post I covered how startups can decide whether to go or not to go to a conference. In this post, I’ll cover surviving the madness of the conference itself.

Once you’ve committed the time and money to attend a conference, make the most of it! Some of our most successful survival tips:

Train Your Team Friendly booth staffers

  • Practice good body language, open stances, smiling, acting friendly and genuine.
  • Don’t eat at the booth.
  • Don’t get engrossed in something on your laptop if you want people to engage with you!
  • Be responsive to booth visitors–quickly.
  • Make sure booth staffers are dressed in a way that they are easily identifiable as a booth staffer.
  • Everyone who goes to the event needs to be able to do your company’s two-sentence pitch. The same way.
  • Ask open-ended questions to draw prospects in when they approach your booth. Asking questions that have “yes” or “no” answers isn’t the greatest conversation starter.

Analyze Your Booth Space Critically

  • Does the overall exhibit grab attendee attention?
  • Is it easy to figure out what the company does and what products they offer?
  • Is the company name prominent?
  • Do the graphics communicate clear and concise message(s)?
  • Do the message(s) inform and give attendees a reason to stop?
  • Adjust on the fly if necessary. I’ve seen people using magic markers to improve their signage.

Take Care of Yourself and Your Staff

  • Bring healthy snacks and drinks. Conference food is overpriced, involves long lines, and nutritious choices are hard to find.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Do NOT wear new shoes.
  • Limit your cocktails at the freebie happy hours. For lots of reasons!
  • Don’t get sick. Wash your hands frequently, and/or use antibacterial hand gel. Take vitamins or whatever supplements give you a healthy boost.

Be Creative with Giveaways

  • Build an awesome demo or video that you can loop to catch people’s attention.
  • Design an informative yet eye-catching one-page takeaway to hand out.
  • Find a clever alternative to blowing lots of cash on bling. When your goal is to collect as many leads as possible, asking for contact information in exchange for the chance to win a meaningful prize is more effective than handing out tchotchkes to anyone who walks by.

Stay Organized

  • Stuff a handful of your cards into your conference badge so you don’t have to fumble around in your bag or pockets to find your business cards.
Stay organized!
Stay organized!

More Tips?!

Let me (and our readers) know if you have more hot conference tips. Thanks!

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Images courtesy of Nikki Navta.

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