Think about the last industry event you attended.

  • How did you prepare?
  • How did you spend your time?
  • How did you follow-up?

Having a game plan will produce ROI from every industry event you attend. Start with this list:



Set goals: Check the roster for people to meet; schedule them for dinner or drinks. Decide which sessions to attend. Get familiar with the venue. (Tip: Use a packing list to remember essentials like business cards and device chargers.)

Tell vendors who is attending from your team: Vendors can then schedule your team for booth tours, dinners or receptions so you can meet their executives and talk with reps you don’t see every day. (Tip: This is your chance to meet people who can help you with any customer issues in the future.)

Create a “booth magnet:” Invent a game with prizes to attract people to your booth and your vendors’ booths. How about a scavenger hunt with trivia questions that kick starts meaningful conversations about products? (Tip: Create your game early so materials are included in attendee packets. At the event, use social media to share happenings at your booth.)

Set times to entertain customers: Be the first to invite top customers for golf, a reception or dinner. Customers will remember you gave them VIP treatment. (Tip: Book an extra day before or after the main event so you don’t miss any last-minute opportunities.)

Gather intel before vendor speed-networking meetings: Review vendor purchase reports for trends; ask your team about vendor management changes or unresolved issues so you can use your 10-minute meetings wisely. (Tip: Organize intel in a Google Docs spreadsheet your team can update live with to-do’s for follow-up.)

Set bonus meetings: Traveling to a city with a partner, customer or vendor nearby? Set up a meeting or tour while you’re there.



Be a connector: Look for new faces. Who might need a warm welcome? Introduce yourself; then find out who else this person should know. Newcomers will be forever grateful.

Split up from your group: Resolve to sit with people you don’t know and talk to them.

Meet the speakers: After a session, shake hands with the speaker, say thanks and present your business card. Connections now pave the way later if you need a speaker for internal training or another event.

Pick up the tab: Show professional courtesy. Don’t be that wholesaler who always expects vendors to pay.

Round up your team for a wrap-up meeting: Before leaving the venue, get everyone to decide who’s doing what by when.



Do your to-do’s: If you used a Google Docs spreadsheet at vendor speed-networking meetings, track completed tasks there.

Say thanks: Send emails or handwritten notes to new contacts, vendors and others who helped you.

Say yes to volunteer opportunities: If you network well, plant seeds and attend industry events year after year, you’ll likely be asked to help a committee, serve on a board or speak at a future event. Stepping up is your chance to build deeper relationships – and that’s sure to double or triple your ROI from industry events over time.