How to Confidentially Work a Conference
The largest multifamily conference is just around the corner. The NAA’s Apartmentalize will bring more than 10,000 industry professionals to the Mile High City this year.
I can envision it now. Multifamily marketers and sales team members in full strategy mode. They are honing-in their outbound efforts, scheduling meetings, planning events and putting the final details on their booth design and activities. It makes this PR account director’s heart happy.
We’ve chatted about how not be swaggy when it comes to conference planning. We discussed the importance of supplier partners segmenting email lists and delighting audiences with spot-on messaging. But the work doesn’t stop there. In fact, this is just the start. What is the point of all of this planning if you don’t effectively and efficiently work the conference to your company’s benefit?
Here are my three tips for exhibitor team members to confidentially work a conference:
- Be welcoming. Since Apartmentalize is in our backyard this year, the LTM team will be in full force. We joke about recreating some iconic, slow-motion group entrance scenes – think The Usual Suspects, Anchorman, Ocean’s 11 or even Mean Girls. All kidding aside, this mentality is something I see a lot at conferences – groups of friends and coworkers walking or working the conference together. And while this team comradery is important, it can come off as clicky and the result can be isolating.
Imagine someone coming up to your booth to learn about your product or service and all they see are team members chatting with each other. Imagine still, booth space is limited, groups are often standing in a circle, closing themselves off from others around them. This isn’t the most inviting of scenarios. In this instance, most people will not interrupt. You’ve just lost an opportunity to connect with someone who could have been a new sale.
So yes, have fun with your team but be mindful of those around you and how they may not be confident enough to engage you first. Make sure to always be welcoming and aware of the people entering your booth.
- Make connections. I am not just talking about immediate sales connections. Yes, new contracts and deals are made every day at conferences. But also, be sure to think long-term.
Consider establishing a goal of making 100 new connections every day at the conference. And by connections, I mean actual conversations. Don’t just hand someone some marketing collateral and scan their badge. These connections can happen anywhere and at any time. In line waiting for coffee. At a networking event. Walking back to the hotel at the end of the day. Heck, even in the bathroom – just don’t be creepy.
Chat with them. Get to know them. Start to build relationships. Are they a leasing professional? How long have they been working in multifamily? What are some of the biggest pain points they are experiencing?
While many of these connections may not be the exact decision maker for you, they can be a great advocate for your product or solution in the future. Multifamily is built on, and thrives on, personal relationships. You never know just where and when that relationship may start.
- Educate yourself. The industry is evolving rapidly. We are truly at a tipping point in terms of technologies and even the behaviors and expectations of renters are changing. It is important to take this opportunity – when you are surrounded by thousands of colleagues – to further your knowledge of what is trending and what is on its way out.
Don’t be afraid to take some time away from your booth – I know, gasp at the thought of not having a fully staffed booth all day – but hear me out. Giving your team members time to see what your competitors are up to can strengthen their abilities to sell and service customers. Are there any new products that you need to keep your eye on? Is there a new supplier partner that could make for a great integration or synergy of services?
Conferences are stressful. They are exhausting. But ultimately, they are a must-do and really something I look forward to. By engaging the few tips above you can be sure the time and effort are worth it, as you know you have worked the conference with confidence.
- Bonus tip: Wear comfy shoes. Ok, this might seem silly but trust me on this one. Nothing is worse than being uncomfortable and trying to put on a smile. As more conferences promote business casual attire, there is no reason for you to suffer because your feet hurt. I am pretty sure last time Apartmentalize was in Denver, I logged more than 25,000 steps a day… just saying.