How to Make Your Business Stand Out at Events
From effective networking to the right business card, here’s the best ways to ensure you and your business make the most out of events
Networking is one of the best ways for small and medium enterprises to spread their message, develop contacts and also boost their profile. Unfortunately, it’s easy to be swallowed up by the noise of hundreds of other companies all competing for attention.
Here are some tips to help small business owners boost their company’s profile, create a lasting impression and make some valuable network contacts.
Get your networking etiquette right
First and foremost you need to make sure your actual presence at a business event makes a difference. To accomplish this, stick to the following:
- Arrive early: You’ll be able to break the ice with other early arrivals and possibly create relationships before the event even starts. The early bird catches the worm!
- Be polite: Listen more than you talk and don’t treat every conversation as a way to sell or push your ideas. Instead, be considerate and hear what people have to say. This creates a sense of empathy and makes people remember you as a good listener.
- Wear a conversation starter: While it’s important to be comfortable, you also want to stand out. Adding a smart tie or brooch can help break up the formality of your outfit and create a starting point for conversation.
- Follow up on all correspondence: Whether you give them a call or add them on LinkedIn, it’s vital to make second contact with people you mean to have a relationship with.
- Be confident and positive: Even if you have to fake it, people won’t want to approach someone who looks like they don’t want to be there. Smile and enjoy yourself – an event is a great opportunity so don’t waste it being unsociable.
Leave a physical impression
While your polite and smiling presence will go a long way, there are methods to ensure people remember you and your business.
For instance consider using custom name badges for you and your team. It’ll help get your branding firmly in people’s minds and will ensure you avoid any awkward moments if someone forgets your name.
Another key element of capturing attention is the use of engaging business cards. However be polite with these and don’t just force them on anyone at the start of a conversation. You should only offer them at the end of a conversation as a means to pass on your contact details.
Your card should contain all of the key contact information you want to transmit as well as your brand image. To guarantee memorability, place a QR code on your card that when scanned brings people to your website or social profile. You should also try to get a unique business card that leaves a lasting impression. For example, toy manufacturer Lego use small mini-figurines with their names printed as their cards.
Attend business awards
Industry awards are fantastic opportunities for networking. Because many niche awards are small, lots of businesses let them pass by without knowing they’ve occurred. You or your staff should be pro-actively searching for awards your business could qualify for and submitting inquiries on how to get entered.
The ceremonies themselves are essentially networking events, but don’t make the mistake of trying to spread your message on a company who are anxiously waiting to see if they’ve won. Wait until the event has relaxed and strike up conversations. As a bonus, you can use congratulations as an in when talking to winners.
And if your company is lucky enough to win, people may come to talk to you. Harness every opportunity.
Consider sponsoring a business event
Even small enterprises can sometimes afford to sponsor or advertise at events. However, it’s generally a costly effort and one that doesn’t guarantee ROI. It can, however, create instant brand recognition and helps keep your brand in focus when striking up conversations. If your name is on posters across the event, people will generally be more keen to speak to you and find out what you bring to the table.
Finally remember to remain polite, follow up on any contacts made, be personal and distribute some physical impressions to encourage people to follow up with you.
Networking can be a tough world, but you have the tools to succeed.
This article was contributed by Craig Boyle copywriter and digital marketer for Badgemaster.co.uk.