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The Pawn Expo 2020 conference and trade show is on the horizon and plans are in in the works to make it a great investment of your time. What is your investment as an attendee? Do you have a plan for building business relationships with others that will be mutually beneficial?

Look at conference attendance from a whole new perspective. What if you were intentional in your commitment to build relationships during this conference? What if you had a plan? Since I changed my perspective about my role in conference attendance, I have built more relationships that have helped me grow as a person and as a business. I committed to “stay engaged and build relationships.”

START BY PREPARING WELL IN ADVANCE

Now is the time to lay out your new conference strategy. Building any friendship leads you to be genuine and strategic, so start with a list of the five people you want to meet at the conference. These can be past attendees, vendors, or presenters. I would bet if you opened the drawer of your desk, you would find a stack of business cards from people you met last year. What about them made you want to know them more? Beside each name, write why you would want to connect with them.

Do your homework using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google to become familiar with their businesses and their interests. Ask yourself what you would like to learn from them. Think of this as if you were seeking a mentor or a friend. Ask yourself what might connect you, make you interesting or add value to them. For example, as a member of Toastmasters (an international public speaking organization), I value communication.

Once you have determined the five people on your list, commit to contacting them at least three times before the conference. This can include phone calls, written notes, and emails. End with a call to action inviting them to meet for coffee or drinks during the conference. Have your plan ready to set in motion when you arrive.

ARRIVE READY TO ENGAGE

Breakout sessions can be so much more rewarding when you are prepared to be the best participant. Secure the list of presenters and get to know their background, interests, and expertise. In other words, know them before they know you!

PRESENTERS REMEMBER THOSE WHO MAKE THEIR SESSIONS ENJOYABLE

I remember a session that I adventurous, consider hosting a party within the conference. A couple of years ago we decided to give this a try. We talked to the conference coordinator and got their blessing. They were pleased that we were willing to add value to their conference. We booked a suite and provided snacks and drinks. During the conference, we created a buzz with the people who we knew enjoyed parties and relationships, and then moved on to others. Our mission the first year was to connect with the movers and shakers. This event allowed for more intimate discussion about each other’s shops and businesses.

As a result of our relationship development, we were invited to tour four innovative shops in Texas, Ohio, Florida, and Indiana. Learning from these shops jumpstarted us in implementing our company’s growth. Don’t get anxious about expense. I recalled from my early days that not having resources never stopped me from throwing outrageously fun parties where I enjoyed the company of good friends and a few strangers. It was in those special you will make them feel and how likely it will be that you will continue a connection after the conference?

RETURN HOME AND CONTINUE TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

While this takes commitment, it is so rewarding. Instead of spending so much time reviewing the nuggets of information you gathered, plan to continue connecting to the gems you met. The preparation you did prior to the conference as well as your engagement during the conference paved the way for this continued connection. Make a detailed plan of the five people you decided were valuable enough to know more intimately. Make committed plans to call (maybe the first week after the conference and once a month afterwards.) Whatever you do… stay connected!

Consider starting a mastermind group where you continue to help each other grow personally. This builds authentic relationships that add tremendous value to all involved.

One of the most valuable assets we have is time. Make your 2020 conference experience more rewarding than ever by investing intentionally in yourself and your conference experience. What distinguishes highly successful people from everyone else is the way they use the power of relationships so that everyone wins. Build a lifelong community of colleagues, contacts, friends, and mentors….one relationship at a time.