For new entrepreneurs and start-ups, navigating the conference minefield can be a challenge. After all, most of the established conferences are expensive affairs to attend, sometimes boiling to down to be downright unaffordable. At the same time, the visibility and the scope of networking these conferences offer most certainly outweigh the cost disadvantage – where else will you find a room full of people who can almost all be your potential clients? Apart from making business connections, these conferences and trade shows are a great place to see what others in the same line of business are doing and show you what you need to do to make your product better for greater business success.

Those attending a conference need to know that majority of the work in attending a conference is done even before you leave the town. Since the fiscal responsibility to attend a conference or trade show is quite high, it only makes sense to ensure that your pre-conference preparation is just as strong as your conference preparation. In this blog, we take a look at what start-ups need to do to have conference experience that is positive for business.

Identify Goals:

Why are you attending the conference? Is it to connect with more people? Is it for finding out what people in your space of business are doing? O r you are trying to build ties with a governing body? Having clearly defined goals is essential since you need to rationalize the time and cost of attending an event. Having goals also makes your networking plan more structured and help you develop a strong messaging strategy.

Content Creation:

Once the messaging strategy has been identified, all efforts should go into creating content that will appeal to your target audience. Creating high-quality content in the form of thought leadership articles, blogs, and whitepapers that the audience is interested in should not only be published on your website but also in online publications that cater to this specific audience. This content has to be generated to display subject matter expertise and industry knowledge and should be leveraged as an effective tool to generate engaging conversations much before the conference begins.

Webinars And Podcasts:

Webinars and podcasts should also be an inclusive part of your conference preparation as they are a great way to attract qualified and interested audiences. Most people sign up for such events because they are actively interested in the topics of conversation. Webinars and podcasts are also an effective way to start a discussion on issues you feel need to be resolved and are surrounding topics that shall be discussed during the conference. By building relevant discussions and involving people you want to connect with at the conference, you will warm up the connections.

Social Connections:

Along with creating compelling content for the conference, it is also essential that this content is discovered by the relevant people. Most of the conferences have a social media trail in the form of dedicated Twitter handles and related hashtags. A number of established conferences also have specific groups on LinkedIn dedicated to conference discussions. By leveraging social channels, start-ups can get into the line of sight of the conference participants and build conversations that go beyond your existing circle. Promoting your content on these social channels, using appropriate hashtags, connecting with speakers and associated conference attendees helps you get into the eye line of your target audience.

Email Campaigns:

Email campaigns can be a powerful tool in conference preparation. However, they need to be planned and targeted. Sending out a generic email blast to is far less likely to be effective when you want to leverage this marketing medium to improve your chances of meeting people. Targeting people you want to connect with at the conference, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors with a well-designed email improve the chances of starting a conversation. The email should outline what you hope to achieve from the conference and ask for an opportunity to meet while there. However, it is very important to make sure that these emails are drafted exceptionally well for two reasons; one, you want to appear as a professional company who know what they are talking about and two, to make sure that your email does not end up in the Spam folder.

Appointment Setting:

By using the above-mentioned strategies, you will be able to build a familiarity trail that can help greatly for scheduling appointments for the conference period. Since social interactions build familiarity, it makes the cold calling process more effective and helps in setting qualified appointments. During cold calling, it is essential to develop segment appropriate messaging that focus on potential problems and their solutions. This gives your target audience a compelling reason to meet with you at the conference.

With the groundwork well in place, all you now need to do is attend the conference with your business card bundle and network actively with potential clients and business partners. When you are at the conference, you also need to make sure that you have a proper recording system in place so that you can reconnect with people once the conference is over.

Post the conference, ensure that you follow up with everyone to carry the momentum of the conference forward. Connecting on professional social media platforms such as LinkedIn is an organic and simple way to follow-up with people you met with.

Approaching conferences in a structured manner will help you get the most bang for your buck and ensure that the time that you spend there is leveraged to its optimal potential.

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