Attending business events is something every entrepreneur will have to do at one point in their career. Conferences, networking sessions, trade shows, lunch and learns, award banquets, pitch competitions – the list of events entrepreneurs frequent is as long as it is diverse.
For entrepreneurs attending events, maintaining a proper etiquette can help build both credibility and relationships. Aside from the things that may seem obvious, like being polite and dressing for the occasion, there are a number of actions you can take to improve your event etiquette.
One thing to remember is that there are people who spend time and resources organizing and executing events for you to attend. It’s important to be courteous of them and appreciate their efforts. With this in mind, here are 10 business event etiquette tips to take with you to your next event.
Register or Buy Tickets ASAP
If you know you want to attend an event, and are 100 percent committed, don’t wait to register or purchase your ticket. Not only are you risking it selling out, you’re also making it more difficult for organizers to plan for the event. The sooner they know how many guests to expect, the sooner they can order things like catering and swag, and prepare for venue requirements.
Attend or Withdraw Your Registration
It’s always best to attend the events you register for, but sometimes life happens. If something comes up and you can no longer attend, make sure you cancel your registration with as much time in advance as possible. Often organizations have refund deadlines to discourage last-minute dropouts. Be sure to pay attention to these when registering.
Don’t be Last-Minute
Speaking of giving time in advance, you should avoid being last-minute when it comes to attending events. This means you should try not to register at the last second (see the first tip for why you shouldn’t), and don’t cancel hours before the event is set to start if at all possible.
Arrive On Time
No one likes uncomfortably slipping past people seated in a long aisle of chairs to get to the only empty seat. It’s even worse when the event has started and people are already listening intently to the opening remarks or keynote. The best way to avoid an awkward entry to an event is to arrive early.
During business events, one of your goals should be to meet new people. Striking up a conversation with a stranger can be a daunting task for some, but it’s necessary if you want to make the most out of the event you’re attending. If networking doesn’t come naturally, try to push yourself outside of your comfort zone by challenging yourself to speak to at least three new people. As you mingle, remember to respect the other person’s time and space and avoid interrupting people who appear to be in an engaging conversation.
Talk About the Event Online
If networking face-to-face is not your thing, a great way to engage with other event attendees and meet new people is to talk about the event online. Whether you tweet, post a picture to Instagram, or publish a LinkedIn article about the event you’re attending, sharing your experience online lets other event attendees know you have a common bond. If the event has a hashtag, make sure to use it in your posts so people looking for others talking about the event can find you easily.
Soliciting is generally frowned upon at most events. While your goal for attending an event may be to generate new business, that shouldn’t be your main focus. Avoid being too “pushy” with your sales pitch when speaking to people at events. Instead, you should aim to make genuine connections with people who may one day become customers.
Bring Your Business Cards
This one may seem obvious, but it’s probably happened to you before. You meet someone new, exchange information about your business, and when the conversation comes to an end, they ask for your business card. That’s when you realize you forgot them at home or back at the office. It may feel awkward, but it’s not a deal breaker. If you find yourself in this predicament, be honest about the situation, ask for their card, and promise to follow up – and then make sure you do!
Follow up with People you Meet
If you’re attending events to build relationships, exchanging business cards and never following up isn’t going to work. Relationships take effort. Be sure to follow up with the people you meet. The most common way to do this is to send an email. According to The Balance, tips for following up with someone you met at an event include:
- following up within 24 hours of meeting them;
- mentioning a conversation from the event;
- offering assistance;
- and, connecting on LinkedIn.
Thank the Organizers
If you have a chance to speak to the event’s organizers, make sure to thank them for all their hard work. It may seem like a small gesture, but it will go a long way. It’s likely they are coming down from a whirlwind of weeks worth of deadlines, logistical chaos, and a long day (or several) filled with everything necessary to make the event run smoothly. Taking a minute to express your appreciation is a nice way to remind them of how important they are to the success of the event.
Attending events is a great way for entrepreneurs to learn new information, make new connections, and create new opportunities. Keeping these event etiquette tips in mind the next time you attend an event will reflect well on you as an entrepreneur, and ensure you make the most out of the experience.
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Also published on Medium.