Pick a weekend, any weekend, and there’s a good chance that an affiliate marketing conference or trade show is taking place somewhere in the country. Many prove to be a worthwhile affair for publishers and merchants alike, opening up the door for you to establish new working partnerships and more.
But some find that the atmosphere can be daunting – crowded floors full of vendors vying for your attention; session after session; corporate parties that may or may not serve any interest towards your focal point.
While what you get out of a conference has a lot to do with the event organizers, your own initiatives and planning plays a critical role in determining what you walk away with at the end of the show.
1. Do your web research
You will likely take a few minutes looking at the event website before you head out, checking out the schedule of events, reviewing the keynote speakers, and taking a gander at the list of participating exhibitors.
While it seems like that’s all you need to get from the web, you should be using this time to isolate the who you can see yourself rubbing shoulders with at the event. Try to set up meetings with those you are interested in before the event begins.
In turn, you’ll end up wasting less time at dinners or gatherings that perhaps based on your past experience, haven’t actually gone anywhere.
2. Get your name out there before the event
In advance, perhaps a month out, let it be known via your social media outlets that you’ll be attending the event. Specify which talks and sessions you plan on being at, and don’t be afraid to converse with others who are doing the same.
Check to see if the conference you’re attending has a LinkedIn organization page that you can interact with others on. And of course, Facebook should not be overlooked. The Affiliate Summit page , for instance, currently reaches out to just short of 40,000 people
Parallel to doing your web research, this will help open the door to becoming familiarized with individuals and companies that you want to speak to.
3. Develop your two-minute pitch
Things can move fast at conferences, and knowing exactly what you want to communicate to potential partners is essential. A short, two-minute pitch about your company which will give attendees and exhibitors a clear-cut idea centered around exactly what you want to accomplish at the show.
It also helps set the tone that you’re truly there to create new and lasting partnerships and not just interested in chit-chat. Let them know that you mean business. Once you have stated your 2 minute pitch, Don’t be afraid to ask:
How do you see the services of your company benefiting me?
It’s almost like pro-level speed dating in a way. There’s nothing wrong with turning down someone that you just can’t see a future with. You’re not hurting anyone’s feelings by moving on – their time is as valuable as yours.
Alongside isolating potential partnerships before the conference, spending about three to four hours on the floor each day making your pitch will ensure quality time well-spent.
4. Be prepared to network anywhere, anytime
Those evening parties where it’s essentially an open floor can be fun, but not necessarily conducive to conducting business. While you may have done your research beforehand, the conversing all around you can sometimes make it difficult to really establish a rapport with potential partners. That’s not to say that these parties serve no purpose at all, but it’s important to keep an open mind when conversing.
During the conference, don’t be afraid to make your way to the bar, atrium, or another less-crowded area and strike up some talks with participants who are also likely looking to escape the crowd.
5. Take your notes. You’ll need them.
People would like to think that they have a good memory. Most don’t.
Business card after business card ends up in your hand during the conference. By the end of it, you’ll have little to no idea about which leads are promising and which will serve you no good.
Turn those business cards into mini notepads that highlight the discussion you had with each lead. In your hotel room, create a system or rubric that qualifies each lead – perhaps a “good”, “maybe”, and “bad” pile. You’ll head back home with a clearer set of partnerships that you want to pursue, while weeding out the less-than-stellar candidates.
Of course, each conference you attend will yield quite the vast array of results. There are plenty of external factors that you simply cannot help. But at the least, the initiatives that you take before, during, and after affiliate conferences can play a huge role in growing your networks and meeting your goals.
Curious about what conferences are happening near you? We’ll be sharing monthly publications that highlight attendance-worthy conferences happening all across the country. Stay tuned!