An estimated 200 million of us attend conferences and trade shows each year. What are we looking
for? Here’s what people say:
o “I’m going to network.”
o “I’m going to pitch new business.”
o “I’m going to learn about my industry.”
o “Honestly, I’m going to sightsee—it’s a cool location.”
To find advice for networkers, we sat down with Marc de Winter, an Event Manager at Amsterdam’ Conference Centre Beurs van Berlage.
Marc strongly suggests you make your contacts well before the event. Through LinkedIn, other
social media, and the relevant conference app, find out who else in your network is attending—and initiate contact. If you haven’t met the contact before, check YouTube to see if there’s a video of
them available. After all, a picture (or video) is worth a thousand words….
So, how far in advance do people start networking and setting up meetings? That depends on where
you’re from, says de Winter. Starting eight weeks before is “not a European concept,” he explains. A
couple of few weeks beforehand is enough: “Get mobile phone numbers beforehand and stay in
touch during the conference,” he counsels.
When networking, post-conference timing is just as important. So, listen to Marc when he says,
“Don’t wait too long to make follow-up contact, because otherwise, top-of-mind is gone.” Some
planners advise budgeting two full days for conference follow-up. But Marc disagrees: “It depends on where the conference is,” and where you yourself are—are you looking at travel time? If so, factor it in. You may need four days to follow up—and to recover from your trip!