Connect Marketplace is the ultimate networking Conference. From meeting with 20-30 suppliers or planners a day, to mingling over drinks and appetizers in the city’s most famous venues, you are guaranteed to meet hundreds of new potential customers, clients and friends. To someone who has never experienced Connect, the Conference may seem overwhelming, but I can guarantee you that by the end of the weekend, you will be signing up to attend next year.
This is your official guide on how to prepare, navigate onsite, and follow-up post Connect Marketplace.
Do Your Research & Plan Ahead
Approximately 2-3 weeks before the Conference, Connect representatives will help you create an account on their platform and book appointments with suppliers if you are a planner and planners if you are a supplier. The platform has all of the information that you would ever need within it. Each supplier or planner will have a description of their business, where they are located and a website URL, so that you can do some background research on potential business opportunities. Once you’ve chosen who will be beneficial for you to meet with, Connect matches suppliers with planners. To get the most out of your appointments, think about the wants and needs of your company before arriving and write down any opportunities that may lie between you and a planner or supplier. Be sure to arrive to your booth with a smile, some branded swag and A LOT of business cards.
Navigating the Marketplace
The Marketplace is comprised of rows upon rows of small booths where planners set-up for the day. Each booth is labelled by row and section depending on whether you are a part of the Connect Marketplace Association, Corporate or Sports categories. Each planner has three hours each morning of the Conference for scheduled appointments and every supplier has six minutes to discuss with the planner, giving each supplier two minutes to transfer to the next appointment. As a supplier you want to make sure that before the appointments start you know where your scheduled booths are located, that way you won’t cut into your appointment time and can maximize your opportunities.
During the appointment times, there are a number of other activities that you can participate in if you don’t have any scheduled appointments. You can take an up to date headshot for your LinkedIn profile or your website, listen to inspirational speakers, or attend any of the many educational sessions that go towards achieving your CMP with EIC. There is never a dull moment at the Marketplace, and choosing the most beneficial activities to your business and your professional development will be the key to having a successful Conference.
Getting to Know Your Peers
Many people come to Connect Marketplace to make new connections ands, foster business opportunities, so make your time at Connect one you won’t forget!. Some first-timers might find attending this Conference alone overwhelming, but as long as you’re willing to jump out of your comfort zone, you will create relationships and friendships at ease.
After a long day of appointments and educational sessions, it might be hard for you to want to attend the exciting events that happen at the end of the day. Let us be the first to tell you that these events are just as important as attending the Conference and appointments itself. Start off by introducing yourself to a new group of individuals, and once you get a discussion going, you can gauge if there is an opportunity for a professional relationship that proves to be beneficial to yourself or your company. If the conversation is difficult to foster, it may be a good idea to move around and explore other options.
Post Conference Follow-up
Networking during the Conference is an opportunity for any small to medium sized business, but more importantly the follow-up could hold the most importance in fostering both personal and business relationships. Once you return to your day-to-day activities at work be sure to take the time to follow up with the new people that you met. This could be in the form of an email, a written personal letter or a quick follow up phone call. Following up will ensure that the person you met will recognize the sincerity of your conversation that was had at Connect and will ensure that if you need to reach out in the future that they are willing to help.