Tuesday Tip: Maximize Time and Efforts at Business Expos
By Yehudit Garmaise
With thousands of heimish yiden heading to Secaucus, NJ, on Wednesday, for the Orthodox Jewish Builders’ Association (OJBA) annual expo for professionals in the fields of construction, management, and real estate, many exhibitors and participants wonder how they can make the most of their day.
Both participants and exhibitors can maximize their energy at expos by taking the time in advance to prepare for the big day, says one frequent expo participant from Boro Park.
When loading up the car to head to the expo, exhibitors should have ready to pack:
1. Thousands of business cards that are organized and ready to exchange with other business people.
2. Attractive, eye-catching, and professional signs that are clear, concise, and to the point.
3. A rehearsed sales pitch that takes only seconds to convey.
“People only visit booths for 10 to 15 seconds,” says Dov B. “So, exhibitors need to remember to tell their stories in exciting ways in just a few seconds.”
4. Fun giveaways with their company's logos on them. While some exhibitors give away things like travel mugs or key chains with their logos, some heimish exhibitors serve food to attract visitors.
For visitors walking around the expo, shmoozing may seem like the number one activity of the day. However, Yaakov L. points out that while meeting and greeting others, expo participants should focus on making connections that might be fruitful in the future.
To ensure a day visiting booths at an expo proves worthwhile, all participants can best prepare by:
1. Get a good night’s sleep the night before. The next day will be action-packed and physically and emotionally draining.
2. Pack many business cards, a travel phone charger, and Tylenol.
3. Write down your goals before the event. To get started, ask yourself why you are attending the expo and what you hope to achieve there. Think about your ideal outcomes at the end of the day.
4. Set definite goals, such as meeting 20 new people and re-connecting with ten previous contacts. If you achieve your goal, promise yourself a fun reward.
5. Look over the expo’s floor plan and consider which booths you would most like to visit. Take the time to research the companies that most interest you so you have some reference points and background for discussions with the business owners.
On the expo’s map, participants can use one color to circle which booths are “must-sees” and another color, such as yellow to circle booths that look interesting if time allows.
6. Make sure your shoes are comfortable because you will be on your feet all day.
7. Bring along a little pad and pen or a phone to keep track of all the new contacts you are making at the event. By making short notes you can easily later follow up with new contacts.
“The many names and phone numbers we collect are the first step we take to calling and booking meetings and other communications with new people long after expos are over,” Yaakov said. “We have to do the legwork to take bring our connections into reality, rather than just let them remain warm handshakes at events.”
8. Write down one “takeaway idea” you received at each important booth so you can easily recall each conversation you had for when you later follow up.
9. Make the most of breaks for meals or coffee breaks by meeting up with business acquaintances. Alternatively, if you need one or more breaks to recharge, allow yourself some time to decompress and take a breather. Step outside to get some fresh air for a break, if you can.
10. Stay open-minded and non-judgemental so you can learn new things. You never know when someone you meet or new information you learn will later come in handy.
Although expo participants should remember that they are working at the expo, Dov N. says that doesn’t mean that merely connecting with others is not important.
Just as kiddushes contribute to social cohesion at shuls, networking opportunities can create lasting ties in the business world.
“In a world of WhatsApp and emails, expos are great places to see existing clients, with whom we usually only speak on the phone or text, “Yaakov L. points out. “It’s healthy to shmooze once in a while: in person.
“We should enjoy our social time, but at the same time, we should remember why we are spending our business day at an expo. We should try our best to stay focused on our goals and aim to meet people with whom we can build lasting business relationships.”
Whether you love or hate networking, remember to put on a happy, relaxed, and confident face before heading to an expo.