alphagamma 5 keys to business conference success South Summit 2016 impressions entrepreneurship

Spain is often misunderstood for its relaxed cultural phrase of “no pasa nada” (“don’t worry about it”). Given the cultural aspects as well as unfortunate continued economic and government crisis, one can wonder how a business conference may be able to succeed here.

However, South Summit is a jewel worth seeing yourself due to its mission to gather the greatest innovations from Southern Europe and Latin America, and to connect them to the region’s largest customers and investors.

Let’s explore how to make your next conference a success.

5 keys to business conference success

South Summit 2016 was held in Madrid, Spain at the “La N@ve” innovation and inspiration center from October 5 – 7, 2016. South Summit focused on a variety of fields from health, fashion, food, FinTech, energy, and EdTech.

There really is something for everyone; from those interested in learning more about business and entrepreneurship, to veteran entrepreneurs and investors, you are ultimately the key to your success at any business conference.

1. Be smart with your time

Plan which events to attend in advance.

Look at the schedule in advance for events that will help you develop professionally or attract new leads, try sitting in on a talk that may be in a field you are not completely familiar with to open yourself to new ideas, and learn the logistics of the venue to save time managing food, phone calls, and breaks.

At South Summit, the main sections were categorized as conferences, the startup competition, marketplace, and social summit.

The conferences at the event averaged from 20 to 45 minutes with speakers such as Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands discussing Europe as a viable option for investing and future startup success stories to discussions about Embracing Disruption featuring a fire-side chat with Diego del Alcazar, VP of IE Business School and John Ridding from the Financial Times, moderated by the UK Ambassador Simon Manley.

2. Don’t be afraid to say “Hello!”

Approaching vendors or speakers after their presentations may seem uncomfortable due to their position or social status.

So, just as in any dating game where you are meeting new people with the intent of starting a relationship, confidence and a purpose are key.

To avoid a feeling of awkwardness, have some predetermined questions that will break the ice when making your approach.

You may only have enough time to approach a speaker whose talk you just heard and state your purpose such as:

“Could I interview you for my media page catering to financial professionals,”
“Could I get your opinion on XYZ,” or
“I’ve been following your organization and I would like for us to meetup for lunch or have a conversation about potential sponsorship or partnership opportunities.”

Any business person with a sense of decency should at least be able to give you a quick reply with some intent or a polite “no, thanks.”

If you hear something to the effect where they won’t give you any contact information or they give you a response that is completely unrelated and shows they didn’t even listen to what you said, it’s not worth your time pursuing that contact.

Save your energy for more fruitful opportunities.

In the case of South Summit, the Marketplace area was full of people to approach, including vendors and startups who are looking for new clients or investors, to meeting with representatives of startup accelerator programs, or those representing the well-known brands and corporations.

3. Don’t just sell

While it can be tempting to simply show up and brag about how great you are and pitch your company, you should learn by listening.

People tend to remember you better if you show genuine interest rather than being the person who power-played the entire conversation.

Further, you can see what others are doing in other industries and deconstruct their approaches to understand their problem-solving methodology or even find a way to give them some of your own expert advice.

After all, in the business world aren’t we all working towards solving another person’s problems? Why not learn how others approach things.

Some interesting startups on the floor that I was able to listen to and learn from included:

Showleap, a software and armband product service company in the health sector that enables real-time communication between individuals who are deaf and those who are not by projecting audio from the armband as a person performs sign-language;

aBoatTime, which claims to be the first website in the tourism sector for boat reservations in the world that is 100% online transactional; and

MONI, a financial sector platform that is working with several government agencies to look for efficient solutions to distribute financial benefits to refugees while keeping them accountable through spending monitoring and growing their capacity to integrate and work in their new home countries.

4. Take notes & Add value

It is important to take notes to remember key information.

In all of the chaos of presentations and meeting people, you will likely have some “aha” moments where a light bulb goes off in your head and you find opportunity to pivot in your ideas or make a connection to a potential new strategy. Take the time to research concepts you may not have been familiar with before.

Simply write some notes and make sure to review them later.

5. Follow-Up, Follow-Up, Follow-Up

I cannot stress this enough.

Collecting business cards while meeting people can be exciting and lead to new hope of prosperity to come.

However, if you don’t take action afterwards, then none of what happened during the conference really mattered if you aren’t able to execute.

South Summit offered a designated “networking” area inside the venue, while others chose to go outside to turn initial conversations into a lead over a meal or drink, or they found a private office once the serious negotiations of business talks began.

By the end of South Summit, if you did not make any connections, grab a local caña (slang for “beer” in Spain) at the event, or got lost in the mass of vendors and conference selections, you did something wrong.

I hope my tips will be able to improve your next conference experience.

How do you find these tips? How did you find South Summit this year? Let me know in the comments below.

For more business tips, check our entrepreneurship section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.


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