A sponsor of the LAUNCH Festival offers advice on making the most of large-scale tech gatherings. By Mary Juetten (Founder & CEO, Traklight.com)
Whether it is CES, SXSW V2V, INBOUND, DEMO, LAUNCH or Women 2.0, large-scale tech conferences can be overwhelming. Unless you are volunteering or a sponsored guest, events are costly so you need a plan to get the most for your money. If you are exhibiting, you have invested even more, thus a detailed plan with metrics is critical.
We are at LAUNCH for three days as a sponsor, complete with a table and time on the Skills Stage to present on Practice Safe Crowdfunding™. Our preparation included talking to our Evangelist Michael who previously attended LAUNCH. We recommend interviewing someone who has attended that particular conference and also do not hesitate to ask for help from organizers. Trust us, they want you back the following year!
Tech in general may suffer from a bad fashion reputation lately, mainly because of the hoodie and ripped jeans look. However, I am referring to footwear only, wearing comfortable shoes is essential. You are on your feet all day long. Even if you have a booth, you should never be sitting down. Ever. You are there to sell and be seen. Be memorable. If you have to sit down because you cannot walk another step or you bail on the networking events because you cannot stand up; your return on investment plummets.
Engage Engage Engage
It is not about your product or your demo. It is always about the customer and getting them to relate to your company. People love to talk about themselves and what better way than to ask people for a story.
At LAUNCH we are interviewing entrepreneurs about IP Horror Stories using just the video functionality on an iPad. We will pull these stories together to share on our site as lessons learned in the trenches. Instead of giving away pens, we ask for simple story in exchange for a chance to win some of our products.
Live blogging is another way to engage with people at the event and back home. Using our Hubspot inbound marketing tools, we will blog from the LAUNCH Demo pit. We recommend creating a series of quick questions to engage the attendees and to provide some interesting reading for our followers.
Pretty obvious tip but not only networking at the event. Start well before on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Do your homework. When you have that moment to step up and shake some VIP’s hand, you need to know a bit about that person and in some cases, try to connect before the event.
Mark Cuban spoke last August in DC. I had previously sent him an email about our company because we share a distaste for patent trolls. When I intercepted him coming off the stage, I introduced Traklight and myself. He remembered my email and we made a connection. He is speaking at LAUNCH and I have reached out to him on Twitter and email.
Also with networking, you need to go outside your comfort zone unless you are an extreme extrovert. Do something scary each day to expand your network. Guaranteed at least half of the other people are just as nervous as you.
Business cards or NO Business cards
We hotly debated this topic because we are proud of our own cool business cards. But I do agree with my COO Jill Howard Allen. Using any app is much better than collecting cards. Our own CRM Infusionsoft has SNAP, which means all our new leads can go into the CRM with a quick picture. On the spot, no messy aftermath.
All Things Tech: Chargers and More Chargers
Invest in a portable battery charger. Do not be that guy or gal who is borrowing a charger, creating a tripping hazard with your cords, or having to sit on the floor beside a plug for the networking hour.
Finally, if you are simply attending, not exhibiting or presenting, all of the above applies. You can be a mobile booth and selling machine with the right technology and solid planning. Set your goals on how many people you will meet, engage, and, if you have a product, set a sales goal. See you there!
About the blogger: Mary Juetten, founder and CEO of Traklight, developed the idea for Traklight while earning her JD. Traklight's mission is to help educate and empower entrepreneurs to be proactive in identifying, protecting, and leveraging ideas through the use of online IP identification tools and resources. Follow Traklight on Facebook, Twitter, and their blog. Image credit: LAUNCH Media, LLC via Flickr.