How We Do Networking and Events in 2024

Hundreds of people at a trade show, with a text overlay saying "How We Do Networking and Events in 2024", with several plant illustrations in bright colors surrounding the text.

Here at 8THIRTYFOUR, we talk a lot about the importance of personal branding. That means defining who you are to your coworkers, your industry and the rest of the world. An important part of establishing your personal brand is putting yourself out there. It’s why we make such an effort to not only attend events to support our clients, but also into making sure we are creating a strong brand for ourselves in spaces where we can make a difference.

More Than Networking

If you’re big on the tradeshow and industry summit circuit, there’s one word you’ll hear more than the rest: networking. No matter the field, no matter the business, it’s something you can’t avoid–and it can genuinely help you grow your network of peers and opportunities if done right. In practice, chatting it up only goes so far if you don’t have the tools and the followthrough to back it up. 

8THIRTYFOUR recently attended the VETS24 Conference in Orlando with Parabilis and Women Impacting Public Policy. We were there not only to support them, but also to continue to grow our network into the government contracting world. We certainly didn’t come back empty-handed. Let’s go over some of the methods we used to grow 8THIRTYFOUR’s professional network and brand recently.

A green card that says "good for 1 FREE DRINK from 8THIRTYFOUR (two if you hire us)" in white font, with a ticket stub-shaped border surrounding the text.

For the first time, we tried out our “drink cards”. Get a card from us, set up a time to get a free drink and have a conversation. These may not work for every business or industry, but for us, they are definitely on-brand and powerful. 

Planning Ahead

Like those conversation cards, we put a lot of effort into planning every event that we attend. The logistics, the collateral, making sure everything is getting to the right place at the right time–it doesn’t just happen overnight.

That’s why we plan ahead by utilizing a checklist tokeep ourselves on task. Here’s a look at some of the key things you have to consider: 

  • Determine a clear purpose for attending
  • Establish your goals (metric or achievement-based)
  • Plan logistics (collateral, travel, rooms, locations)
  • Design, create and order collateral
  • Plan connections ahead of time
  • Create a plan for lead collection

 

…and everything that goes into each of those. We could write a whole blog on event planning and tradeshow preparation. And trust us, we will. 

Kim Bode and Maddie Odle attending the VETS24 conference.

The Art of Following Up

More important than the initial connections you make at the event, is the follow-up you do afterward. Take the new connections you’ve made and turn them into business. A simple LinkedIn connection to start with a message attached, then a more pointed ask for a meeting in the days and weeks that follow. 

You’ll want to make your follow-up personal. Mention specific conversations you had or send resources you promised to. You also want to set clear next steps after meeting with them if you’re trying to win their business. 

Lastly, remember that persistence is key. While you definitely won’t further a relationship by spamming a new acquaintance, don’t be afraid to dial the phone number on that business card to keep a conversation going. It’s there for a reason.

Personal branding is essential for defining yourself to your colleagues, the industry, and the broader world. Attending industry events is a great way to do that. At 8THIRTYFOUR, we prioritize this to make sure we are not only supporting our clients, but also building our brand.

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