As a startup, one of your biggest concerns is building enough credibility so that other companies and influencers will take notice of you. Due to the sheer amount of startups popping up in the past year, it’s become increasingly difficult to get noticed.
Most startups focus too much on growing their digital presence or connecting on social media that they forget one of the most important networking tools that have been around for decades… industry events.
So in this post, we’re going to give you an in-depth look at industry events, what can be considered one, how to pick the best ones to go to and also explain what you should be doing at the events to make the most of them.
What’s considered an industry event?
In short, anything that brings together influencers, businesses, and consumers. It could be a large electronics convention, a small community event or even a sporting event. As long as your business and its products or services have a place in that event, you can consider it an industry event that can help you establish better connections and help you grow your network.
However, deciding which industry events are worth attending can be difficult. You don’t want to bring your products to a small convention that likely won’t convert into any leads, but you also don’t want to drown in a larger event where big-name companies will be taking the spotlight away from you. It’s difficult to balance this, but you need to judge it based on your own circumstances and what can be offered by the event.
For example, attending a relatively large event is fine if a few influencers have already mentioned your products, your name or even the services you offer. This will get people talking and your appearance at a larger even will help get people interested in what it is you’re selling. However, you could also become the “big hit” at a smaller event if there are smaller companies than yourself, putting you as a featured guest and putting the spotlight on you.
Balancing this can take a bit of practice, but you should essentially open up as many channels as possible and put yourself in a position where you can personally pick which events you attend and which you avoid.
Why should I attend an industry event?
There are many good reasons to attend an industry event and we’re going to summarize a couple of the biggest points.
- It helps you get your products, services, and your brand out into the industry for people to see.
- It helps you break out of a comfort zone so that you’ll fail and learn faster while also changing the way you approach the industry.
- It gives you an opportunity to connect with other like-minded business owners, investors, and consumers that can offer you valuable bits of advice and information.
- It allows you to check up on your competitors to see what they’re up to and how their products and services are progressing.
- You’ll get to meet with industry leaders and influencers, giving you opportunities to show off your brand or connect with other businesses and powerful figureheads.
- You’ll learn a lot about new technologies and advances in the industry by attending industry events.
- It serves as a fantastic way for your employees to take a break from their work so that they can relax and have a bit of fun with others in the industry.
- It gives you content to write about on your blog or social media pages.
- It helps consumers build faith in your business and services because you’re willing to make public appearances instead of hiding behind your brand.
- It teaches your staff how to interact when they’re around media attention and helps them establish new business contacts that could be useful for your business.
There are plenty more reasons why you should be attending industry events but we’ve managed to shorten them down to a couple of important points.
But my products aren’t ready, why should I attend one?
Even if you’re not going to have a booth at an event, it’s fine to still attend for the sake of networking and scouting out your competition. There are countless opportunities to a network if you attend an event because you’re essentially going to be surrounded by thousands of consumers, investors and business owners.
Don’t just think that you need to have a booth or a product ready to make use of industry events. You’re perfectly fine going to an event just to soak up information and learn about what your competitors are doing in the industry.
What exactly should you do at an event?
You might be lost at an event, so we’re going to give you a few tips on what you should be doing when you attend an event.
1. Pick and choose the right events
We mentioned this at the start, but it’s vital that you choose the right events to attend. For instance, if you operate a hotel then you may want to look at a hospitality industry exhibition that will cover things like design, technology, fit-outs, refurbishment, and commercial services.
Similarly, if you’re involved in the tech world then big events such as The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and Computex in Taipei are going to be major targets. However, don’t forget that smaller local events also exist and should be utilized if you’re a newcomer to the industry. You could show off your products at a community fundraiser or even set up a small market stall near your local mall.
2. Have a goal in mind
Make sure that before you even book tickets for an event, that you have a goal in mind. It could be for the sake of growing your brand’s exposure, it could be to network or it could even be to reconnect with friends in the industry–it all depends on your personal needs. With a goal in mind, you can make smart and efficient decisions that will slowly lead you to accomplish your goal.
3. Prepare your materials
Be it printing business cards or preparing a booth for your business, you need to consider what important things you need to bring to the event in order to get the most out of it. Take a look at booth design services if you plan to bring your products and consider how much time you’ll be spending at the event so you can plan your schedule accordingly.
4. Don’t be afraid to mingle
Much like a party, you shouldn’t be afraid to mingle with the other people at an event. Listen to people speak before you add to the conversation and don’t be afraid to start conversations as long as you have some way to break the ice. You should be showing interest when speaking to others and if your goal is to gather information, you can’t be too forceful or blatant in your approach.
5. Record what’s going on
Be it taking pictures of products (as long as you’re allowed) or writing down notes in your laptop, make sure you’re constantly recording the important things that are going on so that you don’t forget anything crucial. Things like release dates for new technologies and products or even phone number and names can be very important to remember.
6. Don’t forget to follow up
Collect those business cards, answer those messages and respond to people that were kind enough to give you some point of contact. A business event is a brilliant opportunity to network but if you don’t take advantage of the connections you made almost immediately after it ends, you’re wasting valuable time and need to act fast.
Everyone goes to industry events for different reasons so their to-do list might differ from this. However, if you’ve never been to an event or find yourself lost, then this is an excellent set of guidelines for what you should be doing at your next event.
Hopefully, this article has shed some light on why industry events are so important for startups and why you should be attending as many as you can in order to grow your business and give it a headstart over the competition. Events can be intimidating but you should never shy away from them as a tool to grow your startup.