Five things you need to prepare before attending a business event

Planning on attending business events for networking and learning? Here are five things you need to prepare beforehand to ensure your investment of time and money pays off.

Business events represent valuable opportunities to meet and network with other professionals in your industry, meet potential new clients, keep your knowledge up to date and find new ways to improve processes in your own business.

With so much riding on how you present yourself (and the opportunities you can create), attending important events can feel like a nerve-wracking and daunting task. To help you prepare for success, here are five things you need to do before the day.

1) Do your research 

You’ll often invest a significant amount in attending an event – as well as your time, you have travel, ticket and food and drink costs. So it’s important you properly research whether the investment will be worth your time before committing.

As well as checking the event itself is really worth the time, effort and cost, it’s essential you have a clear idea of what you want out of it, so you can assess whether the event is likely to achieve your aims. For example, are the right people attending? Are the speakers, talks and exhibitors useful to you?

Make sure you don’t just research events that are specifically tailored around businesses. Broaden your horizons into other niches that can provide great insight your company too.

For example, there are many technology events that explore topics which can be applied to a range of industries, such as how AR and VR technologies can be applied in businesses, and how we can overcome challenges from digital transformations.

And finally, once you’ve decided on the events you want to attend, research the exhibitors, speakers and attendees you want to talk to (and their companies). Then compile a list of conversation starters, so you can demonstrate that you’re well-informed and interested in and engaged with their line of work, and avoid any awkward silences.

2) Remember why you’re going

With all the new faces, free goody bags and numerous amounts of business cards you’re going to be handed, it can be easy to get caught up in the moment and forget the real reason why you are there.

This is where your research comes into its own. You have a clear idea of your objectives, and you need to keep them front of mind to help you avoid getting distracted – and leaving without having achieved any of them!

For example, you could aim to leave with five phone calls or meetings scheduled with people you haven’t met before. If you want to meet potential clients, leaving with at least one viable lead would be a great success.

When you know what you want to achieve from the event, you’ll conduct yourself with purpose. There’s nothing worse than aimlessly wandering around, not knowing how to navigate yourself and leaving with nothing gained.

3) Dress smartly 

It can be difficult to decide what to wear to a business conference. You want to look like you belong there, but at the same time you want to stand out for the right reasons. Plus you still want to feel like ‘you’ and be comfortable (it’s likely to be a long day with plenty of walking and standing).

Some events may highlight a dress code, but if not, it’s better to err on the side of professional. You don’t want to put off a potentially useful business contact because you’re too casually dressed for them to take seriously.

Ensuring you look your best not only creates a good first impression, but it also works wonders for providing a much-needed confidence boost.

To make sure you’re ready on the day, get your outfit ready at least a week in advance so you have no last minute hiccups, like discovering something doesn’t fit, or needs to be cleaned before wearing.

4) Get your business cards ready

One thing you absolutely cannot leave home without when attending any business event is business cards. While you should always seek out professional printing solutions for small businesses to help with the printing of your cards, it is imperative that you get this done in plenty of time so they can include all the relevant information. So this is definitely something that you need to prioritise.

(If you’re ordering new cards, you may want to check out some creative design inspiration to help you design cards that stand out.)

As a general rule, it’s wise to bring more business cards than you think you’ll need. And make sure you have a holder to store them in, so they don’t get dirty or bent. They’ll also be easier to find if they’re in a holder – plus you’ll look more professional.

5) Practice your introduction

Going up and introducing yourself to someone new can be daunting, so don’t worry if the idea fills you with dread. To help ease nerves, and ensure that you convey exactly what you want, it’s a good idea to practice your introduction before a big event.

First, think about what you actually want to say. (You can read tips on how to introduce yourself with a well-honed elevator pitch here.)

Once you’ve mastered your elevator pitch, practice saying it in front of a mirror, or to friends or family. The more comfortable you feel introducing yourself, the more comfortable you’ll look.

When introducing yourself, remember to keep eye contact, smile and assess the situation to see if a brief but firm handshake is appropriate. Introduce yourself by your first and last name so there’s no confusion later on.

It’s just as important that you listen for and remember the other person’s name and business, too. Make a mental note, then when you’re out of eyeshot jot it down alongside any key elements from your conversation. That way you won’t forget and you can follow up with them effectively after the event.

Enjoy your next business event

Networking and being the perfect guest at these professional events takes practice, so keep at it. The more you put yourself out there, the wider your network becomes and the more confident you’ll feel. Eventually, attending events like this will become second nature to you. Like anything in business, it’s just a matter of time and perseverance.

Need more networking advice?

If you want to get the most out of the networking opportunities at an event, we recommend reading these articles:

Photo by eddie howell