The fall and winter distributor convention and trade show season is upon us. One of the greatest benefits of these events is not only meeting old friends, but, through networking, making new ones and taking peer-tested ideas back to your boardroom.
NetPlus Alliance’s suppliers and distributor members frequently cite networking at our regional and annual meetings as one of the top benefits of belonging to our industrial and contractor supplies buying group.
We scoured the web for the best distributor networking tips. Here are some of our favorites:
1. Remember that everybody is valuable.
While it’s fine to schedule meetings ahead of time or make dinner plans, keep your eyes open for new connections. As this article says, “the best connections are often spontaneous.” No matter the meeting, seek out suppliers or distributors you may have never met, who may connect you with great opportunities you may not have considered. Another article highlighted the strategy of a man who chose a color and purposely sought out people at events wearing that shade; the unconventional method forced him to meet new people.
2. Host a dinner.
Take advantage of scheduled downtime to connect more deeply with your peers. One author wrote that they will go as far as reserving a table ahead of time for eight people at a nearby restaurant so that he can invite people he meets to join him. First-timers especially appreciate the invites.
Source: Harvard Business Review
3. Be ready for a chance encounter.
You probably have a list of people you would love to meet at an event. Depending on the size of the event, you probably have a good chance of running into them if you’re not able to set up a meeting ahead of time. Be prepared for that. Know the company and identify some potential conversation topics so that if you happen to be in the same buffet line or queue for a drink, you can make that initial connection, fumble-free.
Source: Harvard Business Review
4. Stay at the conference hotel, or very close by.
It’s usually more costly, but it can pay dividends to stay where most attendees will be laying their heads every night. This helps you take advantage of every minute, from breakfast to post-session drinks in the hotel lobby.
5. Always follow up.
If you meet someone you are interested in staying connected with, don’t wait too long to reach out after you are back in the office. Send a thank-you email, and connect on social media. Go beyond just a “nice to meet you.” Proactively help them out if there is something you can do to help them achieve their business goals, whether that’s sharing an article you discussed or connecting them with someone you know. Don’t let the relationship end at happy hour. It’s really easy to lose sight of these connections when you return to the day-to-day.
We hope you’ll take advantage of these insights during your next NetPlus Alliance product training or member meeting. Learn more about NetPlus Alliance events here and via the NetPlus member portal.
Read more tips from our members on making the most of events: Making the Most of Events; 8 Tips from NetPlus’s Distributor Members.