Welcome to the second post in our three-part series on multifamily trade shows. (Miss the first one? Catch up here.)
Now that your trade show is coming up, we’ll discuss how to maximize your time and network like a pro, without getting overwhelmed or burned out.
Manage the Homefront
First things first: cover your bases. Before any big multifamily show, it’s important to set expectations with your family and colleagues. A great time to do this is right before hitting the road or boarding your flight.
- Tip #1: Remind your team you’ll be unavailable. Take a moment to check in with your team on and off property. Let them know you will have limited availability for the length of the show. Good communication will help your team manage expectations and protect you from missing anything while you’re gone.
- Tip #2: Only check email at assigned times. Productivity experts recommend checking email twice a day: first thing in the morning, and again in the evening. Maybe once around lunch. How can you be sure to stick to that schedule? Set up a calendar reminder for your pre-designated times. Then grab a quiet corner to check your inbox.
- Tip #3: Set up an out-of-office notice. Automated reminders are not just for vacations! Having an OOO in place will help you stay fully focused. And, a bonus: when other owners or managers see you’re at the show, they might reach out to meet up. (See #9 on this list for a great example of how to do this well.)
Get Your Head in the Game
Let’s be real: Big shows (think Apartmentalize) and smaller regional shows (like TAA’s Lone Star Expo) can be overwhelming at the best of times. But they can also be a lot of fun. Here’s how you stay sane and drive value:
- Tip #4: Set your intention. You need to have your head in the game as soon as you walk up to the registration table. So take a few moments beforehand to remember why you’re at the conference. What do you hope to accomplish? What types of relationships do you want to build? Having a sense of purpose will help you stay positive through the long days ahead.
- Tip #5: Use your calendar. Manage your time during the event just like you would at home. Go the extra mile to add the sessions you want to attend as meetings on your calendar, complete with location details. Also add extracurriculars, like client dinners or networking meetups. Having all your information in one place is a huge time saver when you’re trying to book it from one end of the conference hall to another.
- Tip #6: Check for an app. Some multifamily conferences have apps complete with map, agenda, schedule and even a messaging service. Check to see if your show has one available. If not, make sure to track down all the info listed above. Pro top: Take time to review a map of the conference and expo hall in advance. Know where your hotel is in relation to the conference. It’s also great to spend a few minutes identifying the closest options for a quick meal, convenience store stop, or happy hour destination.
- Tip #7: Set success metrics. These metrics will become your north star as the conference progresses. Trying to decide between the VIP cocktail reception and the morning wellness run? It’s simple: which is the best opportunity to meet the goal you set in Tip 4? If you’ve only met 75 of the 500 leads you need… it’s time to hit up the cocktail hour with your game face on. Already met with the 10 maintenance vendors you hoped to identify? Take a moment for self care and hit up that morning run -- or, maybe, sleep in!
Make meetings work for you
One of the biggest benefits of an industry trade show? Making new connections. And you’ve already set up a few face-to-face meetings ahead of the show, right? Be sure you put your best foot forward with these simple time-saving tricks.
- Tip #8: Have a homebase. Once you have a lay of the land, pick a spot to host all your pre-arranged meetings.This easy move is an enormous time saver. Your preferred spot should be:
- Part of the main conference, near the exhibit hall
- Near the action, yet relatively quiet
- Easy to see from major entrances and exits
- Once you’ve found your spot, reach out to everyone you plan to meet up with. Remind them of your meeting time, and clearly describe where they can find you. They’ll be impressed with your initiative -- and you’ll always know where your next meeting is.
- Tip #9: Come prepared to charm. Because everyone is swamped during a major show, your most valuable conversations will likely happen after the show itself. So use your time on the floor to build rapport and positive connections. No memorized pitches! Stumped for what to say? The Muse has great tips for networking questions that won’t bore you or your conversation partner.
- Tip #10: Build toward the close. Set yourself up for successful follow-ups by planting a seed in your initial conversation. This trick can also help you wind down conversations that are running long. Try a simple, “I’d love to keep in touch after the show -- can I email you when we get back?” This method is not only respectful (you always want to get permission before contacting people), it also sets their expectations to hear from you soon -- increasing the likelihood they’ll open and respond to your message. Pro-tip: If you exchange business cards, take a picture of theirs on your phone so you have a digital record.
Being super active on social media is one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd. While it can seem intimidating, getting social right at a conference is easy with a few simple tips.
- Tip #11: Join the conversation. Most conferences have a custom hashtag. Do your research and use the correct tag to tap into the conversations already happening around the show. This is one of the fastest ways to gain visibility. You can see who else is at the show, and ping them for a last-minute meet up.
- Tip #12: Tweet takeaways from every session. Share quotes, statistics, and lessons from the talks you attend. You’ll attract the attention of the conference organizers, session speakers, and fellow attendees. Bonus? You’ll create a record of your favorite insights and tips, making it much easier to remember and implement them after the show.
- Tip #13: Help your company’s brand shine. Use your social media activity to positively reflect your brand. It’s easy to demonstrate ROI if you can make a convincing case that your presence at the show boosted brand awareness.
Whether you’re an industry pro or heading out to your first show, these tips can help you stay productive and have a good time. We hope to see you at a conference soon.