(Time to read this Blog article is about 1 minute)

I’ve spoken at 1,000s of Management Conferences and Industry Trade Shows over the past 20 years.  What I’ve noticed is that most folks attend these events, at considerable expense, but without a specific List of, or Plan for, what they want or need to accomplish.  They mostly just wander around in the faint hope that something important and useful will accidentally leap out and stick to them. 

So, here’s my suggestion.  Be much more intentional.  Never attend a Trade Show or Business Conference without a List or a Plan.  A few weeks before the event, sit down and make a List of 4 or 5 things that you need to do better in your business. 

Then, phone the folks organizing the event, or check with a few sharp industry suppliers, and ask them who might be attending the event, who doesn’t compete directly with you, and who has absolutely ‘nailed’ one of the specific areas of management, technology, customer value, creating extraordinary experiences, merchandising, marketing, social media, staffing, inventory control, margin improvement, etc with which you need help.

Next, phone or email those folks, introduce yourself and tell them that you’ve been informed by person X that they’ve done amazing things in the area of XXXX.  Ask them if you could meet them at the event, buy them a beer, lunch or a milkshake and have just 15 minutes of their time to ask a few specific questions about how they went about getting so good at XXXX.  

Show up with 3 or 4 specific questions and be respectful of their time.  Often folks will give you much more time and insight than you asked for because they’re kind, passionate and flattered by your interest and respect.

Finally, send a follow-up ‘thank you’ and offer to be helpful to them when the opportunity comes up.

If it’s a Trade Show that you’ll be attending, what do you need to focus on that will give you a competitive advantage? What are the latest trends?   What product groups do you need to know more about?  What industry service providers could give you a competitive or efficiency advantage? 

These few steps will dramatically change the value that you take home from any Management Conference or Trade Show.  Be intentional and do your homework.  

For info about booking Donald to deliver his bottom-line management and marketing insights at an Industry Conference or Corporate Event…or to discus our Business Coaching program, contact us at donald@donaldcooper.com or by phone at 1-416-252-3703 in Toronto, Canada.

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