If you work in the corporate world, you probably end up going to at least one conference or industry event per year. The great thing about these conferences is that they are usually industry specific so people that you need to be brand yourself with will be there. Whether you are a speaker, press, or just a regular attendee there are always things you can do brand yourself at a conference.
If you are a speaker you are one step ahead of the game because you are already branding yourself as an expert. This is your time to shine so here is what you should do:
- Keep it short and sweet – Don’t you hate those boring presentations that are long and put you to sleep? Well, don’t do that then.
- Entertain people and make them laugh – Some of the best speakers I have ever heard entertain the audience. More importantly, the great speakers that most people seem to remember have put forth a performance of sorts, rather than just a presentation.
- Educate – If you can’t provide any value to the audience, then what’s the point of speaking?
- Answer their questions – Usually, at the end of your speech there will be time for question and answers. The area that most speakers fail at is that they don’t answer the questions that the audience asked. Answering questions that no one asked is useless, so don’t do it. One trick is to re-iterate the question to the person asking it to make sure you understand what they are asking. Nothing irritates people more than if you don’t answer their question.
- Give away your presentation – People are more likely to remember you if you have a conversation with them. A great way to do this is to tell everyone at the end of your speech that you will email them your presentation if they give you their business card. This is great because you are building contacts as well as talking to more people.
Whether you are actually press or you lied so that you can get a press pass you should use it to your advantage. When people see press badges they will either be afraid to talk to you or they will want to talk to you. For those individuals that want to talk to you, here is what you should do:
- Learn who they are and not just about their company. Don’t just do this because you have to due to your press pass, but do it because you actually want to learn who they are.
- Next, let them know who you are and what you do so that they can relate the conversation to you.
- Once you get to know them and they get to know you start discussing their product or service and find out how you can help them.
- Lastly you should trade business cards so that you can keep the conversation going and more importantly build a relationship.
If you are not a speaker or part of the press, you can still brand yourself through conferences. Here are some effective ways I have seen attendees brand themselves:
- Quality over quantity – It would be great to know everyone at a conference but that is usually unrealistic. Instead of trying to network just to obtain business cards, try and build special relationships with a few people that you really connect with.
- Don’t puss out – The biggest mistake attendees make is that they don’t hang out after hours with others. The best time to brand yourself is when everyone is having fun after hours. Whether that is at the bar or parties make sure you are hanging out with the A, B, C and even D listers.
- Get involved – When you are attending sessions you should interact with the people sitting next to you. When people ask the speakers questions that they don’t answer correctly, you should speak up in a polite way and answer the question.
- Run the floor – Most conferences have trade floors where companies exhibit. I know you don’t want to hear sales pitches but you should still visit the booths because those companies should know about you. There is nothing wrong with being head hunted by other companies if they can pay you more money.
I have only been going to conferences for a few years so there are probably tons of other things you can do to brand yourself at these events. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any tips to share.