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I have had the opportunity to plan and execute many small-to-medium sized networking events. These events feature a product showcase as well as networking opportunities. Through my experience in producing these events, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to effectively network.
Real networking starts before the event. Here’s a great example. One of my company’s customers showed an interest in attending, but the venue was over an hour away. Before she could commit to attending, she wanted to make sure she would maximize her efforts.
She requested a list of vendor partners that would be at the event. She contacted them before the show and also made a visit to the our local office the day of the event. Furthermore, she brought along multiple co-workers. These efforts ensured that her valuable time produced the maximum return for her investment.
Getting a hands-on demonstration of a solution is a great way to get people involved in a show. BlueStar is continually finding new ways to bring interactive solutions to the VAR community. The shows that featured complete, working solutions in real world environments have better turn out and interaction. People like to push buttons; it’s human nature. Nothing is better than processing a transaction on a POS system and then seeing a receipt print and the cash drawer pop open.
Odds are if you plan to attend an event, it’s because you’ve been invited. Consider sending personalized invitations to demonstrate your dedication to helping your partner’s business thrive. Send LinkedIn network invitations to new contacts that you make at the show. Again, this will communicate the fact that you’re interested in remaining in touch with this person beyond this individual event and build rapport.
Any event that you attend is an investment; make sure that you are doing what it takes to maximize the ROI. Take initiative to build a larger network of trusted business partners. Your personal success will be determined by the relationships that you are able to create and nurture.