Trade-Show Double Down: Meetup Juke Joint

I’m always looking for a way to hack my business experiences to provide a greater ROI. From my perspective, any time I spend working on my business is “all-in” so I want to be sure I’m extracting the greatest amount of value from my time spent.

This year marks an interesting new chapter for my business partner and I. We’ve spent the last four years building a first rate event photo booth company called Pixilated. While we’ve done exceedingly well in that space, the nature of that business, i.e. Hyper-local, intensely predicated on industry relationships, and a young industry to boot, has kept me in-town and largely out of the conference space.

That said, we’re nearing the launch of our new company Eco Photo Booth that will produce American made, eco friendly, open-air photo booths for sale on the global market. In short, we’re going into the world of products, which will mean some significant changes in our marketing plan.

I’m looking at a lot of conferences and expos in 2016 as a new creative way to spread the word about our company and products, get a feel for my competitors “in-person” value propositions, and garner a better understanding of what the market place we need to succeed in is looking for.

Realizing that time away from Baltimore means time away from my children, my wife, and my team, makes me want to develop some plans to wring every last drop of value from each of these trips. I’ve come up with a few cool ideas I’m eager to try so I thought I’d share them with you.

One of the greatest opportunities we have at conferences is connecting with other people in our space. I mean, it doesn’t get any better than having a product to sell in a room FULL of people that want/need/desire that type of product, right? So meeting and connecting with volumes of people in a sincere way is paramount to success. The rub? Well, the more thoroughly you get to know someone you’ve just met in the conference hall means the less time you can spend meeting more people.

My solution? Meetups! Meetups are an incredible way to extend the conversations you’ve started during the day without taxing all of your focus time. It also sets you up for the follow-up chat, which for me, is always the “door slammer.”

Now when I say move it to a Meetup later, I don’t mean to be a spammy networker crushing into people’s circles, flinging cards like ninja stars and you’re ghost. In fact, don’t’ ever do that shit under any circumstance. You will suck for it and so will your business. You have to be sure to always connect with someone on a sincere level otherwise they’ll have no reason and no interest in getting back together with you.

But…once you’ve vibed with them, the sky is the limit. Let them know, “I don’t want to take up any more of your time here as there are a ton of other people who you should meet. However, if you’re interested, I’m hosting a small Meetup later tonight at the Bellagio. It’s going to be a small group of people whom I’ve connected with today. It’ll be a great opportunity for me to learn more about your business and there’s an excellent chance you’ll meet some other incredible people in our industry.”

Easy right? And you’re acting cool too. You see, people always appreciate the value you’re trying to bring them. Make sure to keep your “ask” clear and concise, don’t’ be desperate, and be prepared that they may be busy.

If your new connection is interested in attending the Meetup, let them know you’ll email or text them a link to the Meetup so that they know pertinent details. Then, encourage them to bring a friend, co-worker, or new acquaintance along. After all, the more the merrier right?

While there are a ton of connections to be made on the trade-show floor, there is also a lot that you can do before the convention even starts. Almost all conventions publish a list of attendees and vendors on their website in the weeks or months leading up to the event. Make use of this opportunity by writing to as many of those contacts as you can.

Introduce yourself and your company, acknowledge that you’re both in the same industry, and propose a Meetup where you can get together in the hosting city to learn more about each others business. Ideally what happens is you kick start the conversation so that by the time you’re trading stories over Vodka Tonics, the formalities are out of the way. You’re buds. This is going to be a great three days!

The other silent victory here is that the people you’ve taken the time to connect with in advance have already become your evangelists and you there’s. You can be sure that, when they’re speaking with someone who you haven’t met and it seems like you should, they’re going to make the intro. They’re going to try and help that person find you because they know your product is a great fit for them and they want to return the value you gave them. Its just how humans work. Trust me.

See you in Vegas?

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