Sarah Breymeier
I am definitely a believer in “different strokes for different folks,” however there is a single truth that we must all accept as podiatric vendors…
You probably already knew that, right? Then, I will be honest when I say I cannot accept it if you go to your hotel room right after a long day in the exhibit hall and stay there. Sorry to be harsh, but you’re wasting some of the most valuable sales time that you’re going to receive at any meeting.
There are still “different strokes for different folks” when it comes to this strategy, however.
Some love, and find success, networking in the lobby bar area after an exhibit hall is closed. Some may find this environment uncomfortable, especially if you don’t partake in alcohol consumption.¬†(note alcohol consumption is not required in this type of space; but I definitely get it if you feel out of place).¬†Keep reading, I have a recommendation for you soon.
If you do feel comfortable in that space, but don’t have a buddy to go with, that can also be intimidating because you’re surrounded by others who seem to know a lot of people. In this case, I would recommend that you offer one of your current customers to join you for a happy hour cocktail AND TO BRING A FRIEND. Yes, you will have to spend a few company dollars because you should definitely pay that tab, but make it worthwhile by ensuring your customer brings a colleague. Now you’ve put yourself in a position to have a new lead and a happy customer to sing your praises to that new lead.
If you do not want to be in that space; there’s always the offer to take some DPMs out to dinner; it can get really pricey, though, so you’ll want to know if this is in your travel budget before you leave the office.
You can also utilize your exhibit hall neighbor… you know, your new best friend. When you stand in a booth for an entire day next to another person just waiting for some action, you get to know your booth neighbor pretty well. It’s likely he/she knows some people you don’t. So be brave and ask that person if they would like to meet up once the hall is closed. You will both bump into others that you know and are in a position to make new introductions.
If they already have plans, they may ask you to join. Don’t feel like you’re intruding; they didn’t have to ask if they didn’t want to. So say yes!
If they say no, they say no. It’s not the end of the world, so do your best not to feel dejected. Instead, you’ve gotten out of your shell and you will be able to do it again at another show. The more you throw yourself into this situation, it will become a habit.
Finally, if you are aware of any type of social event that the meeting is putting on and is a part of your exhibitor fee – YOU BETTER BE GOING.
Or if a DPM or another company representative has asked you to join something they are invited to and can bring a friend/guest – YOU BETTER BE GOING.
These are your golden opportunities to meet people that you didn’t even realize could either become a new customer, a new partner, a new mentor; or could simply be someone you just have a blast with!
People are always amazed at how many people Ann and I know in the industry. Well, we’ve both been here over 10 years and it’s not like we knew everyone right away. Even people who have been in the industry longer than us can’t understand why we’ve been able to make so many connections. I didn’t realize it early on, but now I can see how this is all a domino effect of networking and saying yes to invitations.
I know it’s exhausting to stand in an exhibit hall all day and then continue to put on your happy face after hours. But that’s what the conference life is about. This is about hacking it.
Ultimately as a sales representative, it is your responsibility to take advantage of the environment you’re in. If you leave the exhibit hall floor and go straight to dinner by yourself and then to bed… you are not maximizing your opportunities.