Attending a conference can be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your business. It gets you out of your regular routine, introduces you to new thoughts, helps you meet new like-minded people and so much more. To ensure the experience is productive and successful: Go in prepared, and be intentional in your approach. Below are strategies we’ve compiled to help you take advantage of and unlock opportunities at this summer’s BETA Showcase.
How to Prepare for Attending Showcase
Planning ahead is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for attending a conference. Take some time before the conference begins to set goals, plan your agenda, and make a list of people you want to meet and sessions you want to attend while you're there. You'll feel more prepared, go into it with increased confidence, and find value in the experience.
1. Set goals, and define how you'll meet your goals
Before you get to Showcase, you should have a clear idea of what you hope to gain from it. Start by asking yourself why you're attending. Are you going in order to:
- Look for a new job?
- Find new employees?
- Network and make new connections?
- Discover new strategies to use at work?
- Collect research on your competitors?
- Prospect for new customers?
- Connect with investors
Once you know your primary reason for attending, set SMART goals—goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound—to define what success looks like and how you'll achieve it.
2. Create a schedule
Plan, plan, plan! Once you know your goals for attending the conference, you can start making a plan for what you'll do while you're there.
If your goal is education-focused, spend some time reviewing the conference agenda to create a schedule for the sessions you want to attend. If you're not sure if you want to attend a session, look for YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations, or blog posts produced by speakers to get a feel for what their talks will cover—and if you like their styles.
If your goal is people-focused (networking, prospecting, job-hunting, etc.), take time to find out who's attending the event. There are a couple of ways to do this at BETA Showcase:
- This year’s Showcase is hosted on Hopin — a virtual conferencing platform.
- If your conference has its own custom Twitter hashtag (#BETAShowcase20), use Tweetdeck (free) to follow the hashtag. Most likely, people who use the hashtag are planning on attending the conference.
Once you know who's attending, create a prioritized list of people you want to meet. This will help you stay focused during the event on meeting your networking goals. You can even reach out to people you're interested in meeting before the conference to see if they're willing to schedule a time to connect during or after Showcase.
To make it easier to schedule meetups before the event, use scheduling apps like Calendly (free plans available).
If you're shy or uncomfortable with networking virtually, consider reaching out to BETA Operations lead, Kelly Bhul (firstname.lastname@example.org) to see if there are opportunities to volunteer at the next event. Volunteering gives you a reason to meet and talk to people in a way that feels less forced and awkward.
[DOWNLOAD] BETA Showcase Guide for Attendees
3. Prepare your elevator pitch, and questions
It's important to be prepared with an elevator pitch: a quick explanation of who you are, what you do, and why the person you're talking to should be interested. Your pitch doesn't need to be complicated. Just make sure to cover the basics: name, title/role, and company if applicable. Then let the person know why you’re attending the Showcase or their demo and what you hope to accomplish.
4. Follow up—quickly
Within 24 hours after Showcase, follow up with any connections you made. Include a reminder of what you discussed, and always propose some sort of action — an informational or exploratory meeting (don’t forget to social distance), invite them to an upcoming event relevant to their interests. Including a call to action will help in building a relationship and turn that contact into an ally.
5. Give us your feedback
This is BETA’s first-ever virtual event on Hopin, and we anticipate overcoming some bumps in the road. Help us improve your experience for next time by sharing your insights with the BETA team by emailing email@example.com.
6. Have fun
This is the time for our community to come together to celebrate Minnesota innovations and connect with the brilliant teams behind them.
Feel free to ask them in the event chat, and a member of the BETA team will get back to you shortly.
ABOUT BETA SHOWCASE
Showcase is a science fair for startups, where tech enthusiasts, reporters, investors, and the general public meet with founders from a dozen of the top emerging Minnesota companies.
The 2020 Summer BETA Showcase would not be possible without the sponsorship of our strategic partners at J.P. Morgan Chance.
BETA is a 501(c)(3) organization that develops Minnesota’s next generation of business leaders by inspiring and educating first-time founders. The BETA Group nurtures startups and small businesses with great scalability potential, so that they can grow to become our next Fortune 100s. Learn more.
For more information about BETA Showcase, please contact Kelly Buhl, Operations Lead at firstname.lastname@example.org.