You wouldn’t start training for a marathon a week before the race, right?

So why would you start planning for an event the week before you leave?
Industry events are a fantastic place for business leaders to make connections, share best practices, gain brand recognition, and showcase the value of their offerings. To maximize your impact at an upcoming event, like our own WPC 2016, you need to start preparing long before the event date.
Here are three ways you can start prepping for any upcoming conference:

1. Become a social influencer

First impressions matter — and your first introduction to the community occurs via your social profile.
Whether you’ve established a significant social following, or if you have yet to really begin engaging, it’s important to leverage your social media efforts for networking purposes. Once you have identified your social media goals, you’ll want to provide value to your followers by producing content that provides your audience with an opportunity to learn. Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips:
  • Follow thought leaders and successful partners in your business via Twitter, and connect with them on LinkedIn.
  • Stay up to date by reading articles and watching videos on things like best online reputation practices and earning real engagement.
  • Re-tweet and share valuable content, but don’t forget to build upon their thoughts with your own ideas and knowledge.
  • Differentiate yourself. Don’t be afraid to be bold, and make yourself interesting.
  • Be consistent. Consistency in your posts will instill confidence with your followers and result in a dependable following.
  • Specialize. Don’t try to be the master of everything. Pick a primary social media platform and leverage other social media channels to direct visitors to this primary location.
Establishing yourself as an industry leader can’t be done overnight — it requires a concentrated, consistent effort, but as you work towards becoming a social influencer, other partners will take notice. As you gain influence and build connections, that means less work – and more fun – for you while at the conference.

2. Plan meetings in advance

Even in today’s digital world, face-to-face meetings matter and they are the best way to interact and build successful partnerships. Since events provide the opportunity for thousands of potential interactions, you need to do three things before you get there:
  • Identify your goals and begin initiating relationships. Once you’ve identified key contacts, reach out to them. By initiating these relationships now, you will bypass the small-talk during the event, saving you (and them) time and maximizing the value of your interactions.
  • Determine your must-attend sessions, speakers, and social events. Large conferences typically offer a lot of content, which can be overwhelming. Determine which sessions, speakers and events will help you learn the most or connect you with the most relevant people. Use the conference tools as soon as they become available to build your schedule and plan meetings. Doing so before the event ensures you’ll arrive prepared, which will make you more productive.
  • Make sure the right people from your team are present. It’s impossible to be an expert in all areas, so be sure the right mix of team members is attending. Then assign each person into one of three categories: Enablers, Innovators and Executors. Enablers should focus on industry trends and business operations. Innovators seek out thought leaders and novel technologies. Executors will tackle marketing and sales best practices.

3. Register to be a sponsor or exhibitor

Brand name recognition comes from people seeing your company and your offerings in an environment that it is relevant to them. Being a sponsor or running an exhibit are excellent ways to give your company the brand lift it needs with a relevant audience.
Although sponsorship or running an exhibit may seem like a big step (and cost) to small and mid-sized businesses, these activities provide a pivotal opportunity to extend industry reach and attract partners. Here are the first steps you should take to get started:
  • Learn more about becoming a sponsor or exhibitor at WPC 2016. Download the newly released WPC 2016 Sponsor & Exhibitor Prospectus to explore how you can take part in WPC 2016 and learn about the valuable Sponsor & Exhibitor benefits. Then hear from past exhibitors and sponsors directly by watching the short video below.
  • Get your questions answered. If you have questions about sponsoring or exhibiting at WPC 2016 and how to maximize your investment, please email wpcsales@microsoft.com so a member of our sales team can schedule a meeting with you.
Being a sponsor or exhibitor at WPC (or any conference) will exponentially increase your status as an industry leader, and help you build trust with your future clients and partners.
Implementing these strategies prior to attending an industry event will go a long way in helping you maximize the value of your attendance. As we look ahead to WPC 2016, now is the perfect time to start initiating your planning process.
Still need another incentive to plan ahead? Register today and save – all access passes are available now for our early booking discount price of US $1,795.
I look forward to seeing you there!