Attending the BIBA Expo this week? Follow our top tips for success.

An expo can be an incredibly valuable learning experience in more ways than one. Here’s how to make the most out of the experience.

Everyone loves an Expo, it is a chance to get away from the daily slog and mingle with like-minded industry folk.  With so many panels to attend, speakers to hear, and, yes, work to do, it’s easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm and occasional stress that a work conference has to offer.

For those new to the conference scene, it can seem a little daunting, and for those frequent attendees, it can easily become another one of those events where you pick up freebies, accumulate business cards and then do nothing with them.

That’s why it’s good to go in prepared: here’s our list to help you SMASH this year’s EXPO.

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare

Don’t leave everything to the last minute and don’t just rock up to the event underprepared.  In the weeks leading up to the event, explore what the agenda looks like. Normally this info is available online, although times and locations are usually subject to change, so it’s smart to check back closer to the date, which makes it easy to get an overview of what panels will be offered and what keynote speakers will be presenting.

Hubspot offers a few easy steps to plan ahead of time, such as:

  • Set some goals
  • Make sure to attend the keynote addresses
  • Check your travel arrangements and hotel reservations ahead of time

Smart tip – Make sure you have informed your colleagues that you are attending the expo, set an out of office and leave some contact details in case of emergency.

2. Keep it simple

Sticking to your usual routine helps.  If you have to stay away during your trip to the EXPO we know that it can be tempting to splurge on large meals, have a few too many in the bar with work colleagues and stay out a little late but have you really thought about the consequences.  First impressions count for EVERYTHING.  A lack of sleep normally means more coffee and more coffee can be bad.  You may feel a sudden energy spike, but it normally plateaus very quickly.  Think about it, do you want to show up looking like you’ve over-indulged at happy hour or bright-eyed and bushy tailed ready to make an impression. Don’t be afraid to have fun with colleagues and new acquaintances, but remember to keep everything in moderation.

Smart tip – Get a good night’s sleep, eat healthy foods where practicable and if you have time take a wander or get to the gym to relieve some stress.

3. Network your way

Networking is one of the best reasons to attend an EXPO. It’s a great opportunity to meet new clients, potential customers, partners and competitors.

Don’t forget about using social media to your advantage, join in on Twitter and Instagram and use conference hashtags to participate in the conversation.

Smart tip – If you are shy or introverted, you should still make an effort to find a networking situation that makes you feel comfortable,  whether that’s setting up a one-on-one session ahead of time or making a restaurant reservation for a set number of guests. Even speaking to those other shy introverted people in the hall, at lunch or even in the restroom can work.

4. Stay Organised

During an EXPO it can seem like a juggling act – especially when you are juggling business cards, freebies, information and handouts.

Don’t get overwhelmed –. Develop a method that works for you: write down memorable parts of each session, key takeaways, and names of participants you networked with and how you can follow up.

Smart tip – Don’t forego the handshake because your hands are filled with freebies -do you really need that lolly pop, is that not just another pen that will run out in a week?  Keep your hands as free as possible; why not take a quick pic on your phone of someone’s business card or a4 flyer?  It saves on paper, reduces the chance of losing valuable information and enables you to look more professional. (You don’t want to be that person with the 4 bags of freebies!)

5. Follow up

A no brainer really, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t follow up post EXPO.  Email while you are fresh in their memory.

Smart tip: Mark some key information on your calendar about them and after initial contact email them in a month or so.  It looks quite impressive if you know some key info about them well after your initial contact as it shows you’ve listened.

Summing up

Attending an EXPO doesn’t come cheap; don’t fall into the trap of going just because you want to ‘be seen to be there.’   We never understand why businesses do this, yet many do.  Go with a genuine plan of attack, prepare, network and follow up and you should reap the rewards.

Keep a look out for our partners OpenGI who are attending the event.