It’s Never Too Early to Begin

By Jeff Duguid, Guest Contributor  

The schedule beings at 8:00 in the morning, and you arrive at 7:45 a.m. ready to go. You enter the convention center patting yourself on the back for arriving 15 minutes early and head straight for the continental breakfast. As people slowly file in, you are ready to start networking.

I was recently asked how I prepare before attending a major conference. My advice was simple: start with breakfast and start now! Now is the time to plan your breakfasts for SAME’s Federal Small Business Conference for the A/E/C Industry, being held Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2018 at the New Orleans Convention Center in New Orleans, La.

It’s never too early to begin planning your conference schedule. If your firm is exhibiting or presenting, undoubtedly you understand those are activities that require advanced planning; but many attendees plan to attend without any advanced planning. Yikes!

What is Your Goal for Attending?

The first question any plan should answer: What is your goal for attending? The top answer for most people is networking. If this is yours, develop a list of firms or individuals you would like to meet. Once you have that list, then start reaching out to them, introduce yourself, and set a time to meet at the conference. You may find that many people plan their conference schedules ahead of time and are already booked. But chances are, they haven’t planned breakfast!

I recommend starting your conference day with a breakfast meeting. It’s a great time to meet before coworkers back at the office need quick favors or other appointments and meetings begin. And you’d be surprised how early many of the attendees to SAME’s conferences get up…and have already gone to the gym while others are hitting snooze!

I have never had a single breakfast meeting interrupted or canceled due to an urgent call, text or email.

SBC: An Invaluable Opportunity

Do you have a contact that is not attending the conference, or someone you have tried connecting with, but have been unsuccessful? Maybe between work trips, vacations and holidays, your schedules don’t seem to sync.

I have never had a single breakfast meeting interrupted or canceled due to an urgent call, text or email.

Each year I try to find at least five people who I know haven’t attended the Small Business Conference in recent years and urge them to attend. I remind them of the efficient use of time, and where else can you network with so many clients and teaming partners all in the same day under the same roof? Encourage them to attend, who could say no to Halloween in New Orleans? What’s next? You guessed it. I’m their first committed meeting once they register, and we set a mealtime for us to catch up face to face.

Increasing Your Firm’s Brand Awareness

If networking isn’t your priority at the conference, increasing your firm’s brand awareness probably is. In this case, I highly encourage you to register as an exhibitor (it’s not too late). What better way to get your name in front of attendees than to have a giant logo in an exhibit booth?

On the exhibit floor, you’ll meet a lot of new people while networking. The best part about exhibiting is that everyone comes to you! Plan a creative way to catch the attention of attendees and you’ll have opportunities to have conversations that will increase your firm’s brand awareness.

For more information, visit Follow the event using #SAMESBC18.

Jeff Duguid is Marketing Manager at RLF, and Programs Chair of the SAME Young Member Council.;