Soaring Worldwide’s Stewart Dyer shares his thoughts on how business development professionals can make the most of international events.
As I glance at my calendar and notice that we are are almost halfway through November, I realise that Christmas is approaching fast and as always, I haven’t started my most dreaded yearly task; Christmas shopping! On the plus side though, it does mean that next week I will be heading abroad for another large international event.
Last year was my first experience of a global meetings event and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience – I am hoping that this year will be even better. When my boss first mentioned to me last year that he thought it would be a good idea to go, I could see why. The bulk of our work involves promoting venues and destinations, both in the UK and overseas, so after a quick look at the exhibitor list for the show I realised there would be a lot of potential opportunities to network.
However, there was an immediate concern for me; exhibitors are there to see event bookers and organisers. I am a Business Development Manager, so why would they want to see me?
Instead, I decided to change my attitude; these events are the perfect place to network, so why not simply ask if anyone would like to meet to make a new contact? We were going to be at the show to lend some PR and marketing support to a number of our clients anyway, so why not take the opportunity to reach out to other exhibitors to grow my own network.
Honesty is always the best policy, and being still fairly new to the industry I am always looking to make new contacts and to learn from those who have significantly more experience than I do. So I asked the question, and the result was that I managed to book close to 50 meetings across the show’s duration.
The details of how I achieved this will be the subject of a subsequent blog, but the outcome was extremely positive; I met some really interesting people from a variety of different countries, learnt a lot about the meetings and events industry, and I believe I have formed some genuine long term relationships.
The point I am making here is to maximise your opportunities. The more people you meet, the more people will know who you are and what you do. It may not lead to business straight away but you never know what will happen in the future. Every new contact you make is a new relationship to nurture, and if you do it properly then you will quickly build trust and respect. This means that when an opportunity does arise from a new contact, you will be in a much stronger position to win the business.