The 5 Exhibit Hall Hacks to Make Your Conference a Success
You did it!
You convinced your boss that the investment in Microsoft Ignite 2015 was worth every dollar. You may have sold them on the 50% off certification exams or the rich content that will be covered in Chicago including Big Data, Intelligence, Cloud, Mobility, Productivity, and all of the other major changes coming down the pipeline or maybe you explained the partner and vendor relationships that can be made in person.
Whatever the reason, all that matters is you’re attending Ignite on May 4-8th! Congratulations!
Now that you have the sign off, this event might start to get a bit overwhelming. Luckily for you, over the coming weeks, there are going to be a TON of resources to help you plan (including this awesome webinar). In this post, we’re going to specifically address the exhibit hall and how you can optimize your time in this massive area!
Top Five IGNITE Exhibit Hall Hacks:
1. Have a Networking Game Plan
Why go to conferences anymore? Surely you can just get all of the information that’s presented online. Heck you can even watch the recorded presentations post event. So what’s the point?
THE PEOPLE. The relationships you build face to face, the thought provoking debates had before a session starts, and the conversations sparked over lunch or at a cocktail hour are really what a conference spend buys you these days.
No matter what LinkedIn will tell you, human interaction will always be the gold standard of Networking. Whether you’re a Vendor, Developer, Admin, Job Seeker, Speaker, Industry Expert or Thought leader… Ignite will attract your target market and there will be 15,000+ new opportunities waiting for you. Don’t count on magically being in the right place at the right time!
Pick an attendee breakfast or a community lounge and get those dates booked! Even if you don’t know who will be joining you, be sure to start booking your lunch and dinner reservations! Don’t know where to go? Check out UrbanSpoon, Yelp, or The New York times for some great suggestions!
2. Vendor Scouting
Just like Networking, vendor scouting cannot be left to chance. With 300+ vendors on the exhibit hall this year, you can’t be wasting your time sucked into a demo or elevator pitch that has nothing to do with your business needs.
- Now (like yesterday) is a great time to have a meeting with your team and your boss on your 2015/2016 roadmap. What initiatives could move faster if you had a little external support?
- Once your team identifies those pain points, take a look at the Sponsors and start to identify a list of at least 10-15 you would like to learn more about at the event. Note their booth number and plan on talking to them in the first day or two, this way you will have the remainder of the week to follow up with additional questions.
- Reach out to your top 5. Let them know you will be stopping by and set up a specific time. This way you’ll have their undivided attention and ensure the right people will be at the booth when you need them to be.
- Send your pre-conference scouting report to the rest of your team, make sure and collect all of their questions for these vendors before you take off.
3. The (sigggghhh) Swag
As many of you know, this is a topic very near and dear to my heart, however I am going to do my best to stay off my soap box.
When it comes to collecting swag, I highly recommend not falling into the zombie apocalypse approach right off the bat. You should never allow yourself to return to the airport with more than 3-5 branded items, so choose wisely! And yes, that includes the “kid’s gifts” too, I promise you they won’t be treasuring that pen light in 30 days from now. This also serves as a PSA from Hoarding: Buried Alive (check your local listings).
And remember – that swag is for everyone so you can probably survive with just one. If you feel you need more, try politely asking the vendor – I’m sure they’ll be happy to make concessions. Just don’t be the person that grabs a handful off the booth, refuses eye contact and disappears into the night.
4. Indeed, LinkedIn, and The Ladders on Steroids
Did I mention there will be 300+ exhibitors (a.k.a potential employers) in one location?
This is the biggest event of the year for most of these companies, which means a lot of top dogs will be roaming this floor. If you’re currently searching for a new opportunity, don’t miss this four day interview session. Take a look at those vendors prior to the event, set up time at the booth to learn more about the company, deliver a physical resume (remember those?), or get creative and find a way to flip the script and demo your skills.
When I need a break from long exhibit hall hours, you can most certainly find me checking out the latest Surface, flying a Drone, or challenging a co-worker to a little Call of Duty. Microsoft is planning on featuring a bigger and better “Device Bar” than ever before, so be sure to take a brain break and play with some fun new toys!
I hope these five hacks have helped you set a game plan in motion to get the most ROI from your exhibit hall time at Microsoft Ignite. No matter your plan, just be sure it includes a stop at the Fpweb.net booth to say hello, take a load off and charge your devices!
If you’re looking for a deeper dive into what to expect at Microsoft Ignite, be sure to register for our upcoming webinar Top Conference Hacks to Get the Most out of Microsoft Ignite featuring myself, Dan Holme from IT Unity and Bill Baer from Microsoft.