I’m attending the International Shopping Center convention in Las Vegas next week and have been preparing for the convention since the first of the year. I have found that in order for me to have a successful convention I must set a goal of what I want to accomplish and then devise a strategy as to how I will reach my goal. Once I have a strategy in place I develop a contact list of people I’d like to meet with at the convention and start placing calls to see if I can set appointments. I always make sure I have gaps between appointments so that I’m able to spend time networking with other attendees. It’s pretty easy to strike up a conversation while waiting in line at Starbucks. Additionally, I’ve found that attending the formal functions put on by the ICSC at breakfast, lunch and dinner offer plenty of opportunities to make new connections in the industry.
Convention days are long and hard, leaving me tired by the end of the convention. But, once I’m back in the office the real work begins. The contact information for everyone I’ve met must to put into a database and a short personalized email sent out. If I haven’t received a response from the emails within a couple of days a follow-up call is placed. As with any relationship, whether it is personal or business, it must be nurtured if you are interested in having that relationship grow. It is through these relationships that new deals will arise.
I think it is safe to say that if you are interested in having a great convention you should prepare prior to the convention, work hard during the convention and follow-up after the convention.