In July, bizzi went to RISE Hong Kong, Asia’s largest technology conference. bizzi was selected by the organisers to participate in the ALPHA program, which showcases up-and-coming tech startups to investors and end users.
This was a big deal for us. The ALPHA program included meetings with mentors, networking opportunities and a trade stand for one day of the event.
If you have ever wondered what it is like to attend or exhibit at a major international startup conference, here are 5 things to do to ensure you do it right:
1. BE CLEAR ON WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE
Exhibiting at a major conference or trade show as an exhibitor costs money, and takes you out of the office for up to a week. As a boot-strapped early stage startup, we had to make sure it was going to be worth our while.
We chose the following key factors to measure return on investment:
Exposure – were influential people and potential end users going to find out about bizzi?
Contacts – was there an opportunity to network and meet potential partners, investors or interviewees for our media channel?
Leads – was the quality of the attendees such that meaningful leads were possible?
Choose your own metrics to measure success for your business.
2. INTRODUCE YOURSELF PRIOR TO THE CONFERENCE
Don’t leave it to chance to turn up at the event and have everything fall in your lap. Focus and preparation are key.
The RISE app contained the full directory of all speakers, investors and attendees, and included the ability to message any of them directly.
Two weeks out from the event, I identified those investors that seemed to have an interest in our sector, plus speakers that could be useful for market knowledge or as future mentors. I contacted them all with a personal message one week out from the conference. This exercise took two full days, and I received a handful of positive responses for meetings.
If the conference does not have an app, it will most certainly have a directory on its website. The more prepared you are, the better outcomes you will experience.
3. ATTEND EVERYTHING
Major conferences normally have several sessions running concurrently. Plan which ones you will attend prior to arrival. When there, take full advantage of all social events. Relationships are the cornerstone of success, so make sure you are networking actively throughout the conference.
It is not easy to be everywhere if you are the only representative from your company attending a conference. Think where you will experience the best exposure for your business. Most likely it will be where you can meet contacts face-to-face. If you are heading to the conference with your team, divide and conquer. But regroup daily to discuss the conversations you have had, and what actions everyone will take to follow up.
Take full advantage of lounge facilities at the conference for your meetings. Be present and “on” and all times. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Wear comfortable shoes. And coffee!!!
4. FOLLOW UP
You will be exhausted at the end of any conference you attend, so pre-preparation is essential. If you took a stand, have all your follow up newsletters and emails already drafted, so you can make any minor tweaks and send them out straight away. For all personal connections you made, connect with these people on Linkedin, WhatsApp or WeChat with a personal message immediately after the event. Don’t let any leads go cold.
bizzi has experts who can advise you how to be a more successful exhibitor at your next trade show or conference. Check out the profiles of our MicroConsultants Maarten and Tamy, and book a session with them to get your questions answered.