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Monday, September 24, 2018

Making the Most of the ANI

Making the Most of the ANI

Getting the most from attending a conference like AAHAM’s ANI takes some homework to maximize the many once-a-year opportunities offered to both exhibitors and attendees. 

Ask seasoned business development executives and they offer a wealth of suggestions and remind us that it takes more than just showing up to make the most of this time.  Having the opportunity to meet people face-to-face is priceless, but it’s important to have plans before you arrive. 

Here are a few tips to get the most bang for your registration buck:

·       Review the ANI information on the website and understand the agenda before arriving.  Highlight the sessions you want to attend, when the exhibit hall is open and when the receptions are.  Use the app for the latest information. 

·       Plan sessions to attend that offer education and/or speakers you want to hear.  Consider their networking exposure too.  There may be panelists you want to connect with after their presentation or people in the audience or association you are hoping to meet.

·       Make of a list of people who you want to meet and why they are of importance to you.  If you don’t have specific names of individuals, review the attender list for exhibitors, speakers and other attendees. 

·       Know your goals in attending and they will help you decide how to accomplish them. If your goal is networking; be careful not to sit down.  Stand in the halls and talk to people.  Get to networking events early to meet as many people as possible.  You can even network while waiting in the buffet lines or waiting for the elevator.  Your existing contacts can introduce you to others. Everyone is a potential contact and with this in mind, you can start talking to everyone. 

·       In the exhibit hall, scope out exhibitors and learn what they do but take care to respect people’s time.  They want to meet as many people as they can and it’s important to be aware of that as well.

·       Polish your elevator speech.  When talking with someone before you expound on the benefits of doing business with you or what you do, try to establish some common ground. Compliment them on clothing, their presentation or ask about their booth.  Effective follow up is essential than thinking you’ll score a contract. 

·       When you meet someone, it’s important to continue the relationship after the conference is over.  You need to plan in advance how you will reconnect, get their email address and use for personal notes, check them out on LinkedIn and add them to your contacts.  Follow up is essential.

·       Try wearing something that sets you apart, perhaps a wild, crazy tie for a man, an interesting pair of glasses or piece of costume jewelry for a woman.  People remember you as the person who stood out.    

·       Invite other attendees to join you at your table during one of the breakfasts or lunches.  Exhibitors, consider host a small dinner by inviting 6-8 people to share a meal.  Be prepared to pick up the check if you initiated the invitation, it is well worth the expense.  You’ll be surprised at how much more effective your networking will be if you either attend a meal as someone’s guest or host one.       

·       Be in the present.  It’s tempting to check email messages while you are standing at an event; but save this for when you are in your room.  The reason you are attending the ANI is to connect and it’s important to disconnect for a while from your office. 

I hope you have a successful ANI and if the AAHAM staff can be of help in anyway, please feel free to reach out to us.



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