9 tips to make the most out of Metalcon 2015
From october 14 to october 16, the metal industry leaders gather to learn, network, do business, and participate in the largest international event dedicated to the metal construction industry. Metalcon 2015 is around the corner and we are getting ready for 3 days full of information and networking. Here are 9 tips to make sure you and your business make the most out of this event:
Prepare like a champ
1. Set a goal
This is an overlooked step that might determine the success of your travel. Planning a strategy for your business and preparing for a conference are similar, if you don’t set a goal, you can get lost trying to cover too much and miss what is important. Think about three key areas of your business that you want to improve and mostly focus on conferences and exhibitors covering them. For example, if you want to learn how to increase your profitability, you can attend this session or use the advanced search to know which exhibitors provide productivity solutions.
2. Equip yourself
Conferences are a great learning and networking experience, to make sure you don’t miss an opportunity, prepare early and make sure you don’t forget the conference-goer essentials:
- A large stack of business cards. You never know how popular you will be
- Rolling bag. Let’s be honest, you always come back with bags full of new gadgets for the office. It is pleasant but no need to break your back for it
- A phone and laptop chargers. Keep them close, you don’t want to run out of batteries by lunch
- Download the Metalcon app. A great way to keep informed, save the conferences you want to attend to and locate the exhibitors
3. Plan smart-sessions
Metalcon 2015 is an event that gathers key-players from the metal industry from several countries and many backgrounds. You will find roofing contractors, architects, engineers, developers, facility managers, and software providers with innovative ideas and compelling stories. Reach out to your contacts beforehand and propose grabbing an early breakfast together, lunch, or drinks during the conference. Encourage each person to invite 1-2 people that inspire them to generate new opportunities.
Build a strategy
You got to Tampa, your plane landed on time and the weather is as warm as you expected. Now what? The next few days will be intense, full of activities, and networking but there is no need to be overwhelmed. You have a goal, a plan and your conference kit is complete: you are ready. The conference doors are about to open, here are a few things to keep in mind to make the most out of Metalcon 2015:
4. Spread the team
A three day event such as Metalcon exhibits many and often simultaneous conferences. A smart way to make the most out of it is to divide your team between the events. If each of you attends a specific session, you will maximize how much your company will learn and empower your team members. Regroup at the end of the day to discuss the key ideas gathered by your team.
5. Remember like a pro
With over 30 conferences, 200 exhibitors and 2 learning zones, expect to be overloaded with information. How will you be able to remember who is “John Garner, Metal, Wisconsin” and “Ron, Construction Manager, Houston”? An effective way to remember is to writing a few keywords on the back to trigger your memory. I advise to write this:
- Time you met: exact day, morning or afternoon
- Place you met
- Key takeaways: keep it to keywords
If you met John after lunch and talked about how you found ways to be more efficient, writing “thursday, lunch – cafeteria – productivity software” should do the trick. Feel free to adapt it to something that will work for you.
6. Never eat alone.
You might have come alone to Florida and find yourself about to have lunch by yourself. Before you draw your phone and learned that another wolf-dog escaped the Tampa zoo, look for folks in your situation and ask to grab a lunch together. Chances are they accept, and it is always easy to start a conversation about which conferences you attended to, or what has been their favorite session so far.
7. Don’t underestimate the downtime
Yes, you are going to Metalcon to attend to as many conferences as you can, you want to see demos from partners, visit the learning zones and why not, attend the CMCA championship. But do no limit your experience to the activities. You are also here to network and most conference-goers affirm that their greatest conference experiences happened during the “downtime.”. You could find you next provider between two conferences, accross a salad at lunch or during a cocktail hour. Some companies even have private dinner where you can meet industry leaders and key partners of your industry. ABIS is having one on thursday, to know where it will be hosted and if reservations are still open, visit the booth 408 or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You came back, it is not over yet
Take some time to decompress after you arrive home. … But not too much, because your work’s not finished. The days and weeks after a conference are when you’ll be able to put everything you’ve learned to use and turn your short meet-and-greets into fruitful business partnerships.
8. Follow up
This is probably the one rule you hear over and over but like they say “repetition is key of good partnerships”. Don’t expect John, with who you had a great discussion about productivity over a steak on thursday, to remember you in a month from if you don’t keep in touch. Take a morning to cultivate your contacts by sending them an email and why not schedule a call to finish this discussion and learn how you could benefit for both business.
9. Share your knowledge
After three days of conferences, you learned a lot about the future of your profession, you discovered new material that can transform your products and discussed how a company uses only one software to manage all their operations. But can you make sure this information impacts your business? Teach your teams.
Gather them one day and prepare a 10 to 20 minutes presentation. Introduce them to new ideas and challenge their critical thinking. Figure out as a group how this could improve your business and if you split your teams as we discussed earlier, make sure to give them a few minutes to pitch their favorite takeaways.