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4 Reasons Why Evening Events Matter at Conferences

By Holly Barker
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Evening events at conferences and trade shows sometimes get a bad reputation from attendees. Below are a few reasons why evening events matter.  

As event planners sometimes we question whether holding an evening event is really essential and the right thing to do. Clients want to know whether the extra budget can be justified. Likewise after a long day in conference sessions or manning their exhibition booth, attendees can sometimes be reticent to spend extra time “after hours” at your evening event. Opportunities like these are important though. Whether you are looking from the organizer, client, sponsor or attendee perspective, here are some things to think about.

4 Reasons Why Evening Events Matter at Conferences

Why Bother?

Networking is the lifeblood of events and sometimes a busy conference and exhibition just doesn’t give enough opportunity to capitalize on making those meaningful connections. Dedicated networking events give a valuable chance to speak to those you may have missed, without other distractions and the pressure of the live event. Networking at events goes a long way for not only your company, but also for your own personal brand!

Most larger conferences and trade shows have evening events planned for their attendees to relax, sit back, mingle and blow off a little steam after super long days of sessions and walking around an expo hall floor. If they can get past their aching feet a lot of attendees look forward to these scheduled events, because they provide an easy way to chat with other vendors, sponsors, and industry peers to catch up on trends, issues and talk shop.

If you are wondering whether to put in the extra effort to organize a supplementary event, here are some reasons why it is important. Likewise if you find yourself attending a trade show and feeling like it may not be right to enjoy yourself after long sessions, run through this list to know it IS ok. Even if you are feeling lethargic after a long day on the expo floor, here are 4 reasons why it is worth making the effort.

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To Increase Your Personal Brand Visibility

Companies are not the only ones who should be setting a goal around brand awareness at events. As an attendee (this includes sponsors, exhibitors and anyone at an event) you should know your personal brand is on display at all times. No matter what industry you work in, people are always talking about attendees who engage, make a difference, and have great ideas at events.

Attending business networking events is a key marketing strategy. You want to ensure you are staying on top of what’s happening in your industry. By doing this, you should attend evening events during a conference to mingle and see what trends are taking place or are on their way out the door. Putting yourself out there is a great way to get noticed, and to discover new peers you need to have in your circle. The more you mingle and have conversations, the more opportunities you will see come your way. Just be sure you are respectful, engaged, and willing to learn from those you meet at events - the last thing you want it a bad rep for acting impolitely or unprofessionally in front of peers.

To Start Real Relationships

It can be said that most attendees do not walk away with tons of new personal contacts at the end of an event. Figure out what your personal growth goals are before attending an event. Are there vendors or companies you have had your eye on for a while and want to speak to? Make a list of those brands you know will be at an event, and reach out to them to see if you can sync up during an evening event. It’s sometimes nice to have an open, relaxed setting when meeting new potential partners or peers, so why not do that at an evening event?

Meeting new vendors is the first step to creating long-term relationships. Once you have that initial conversation, it’s up to you to continue the dialogue after the event. Just think - the odds of the vendors remembering you will be higher if you take the initiative to reach out to them pre-show, set up time to sync with them at the event, and follow up after! Years down the road these guys may end up hiring you because you put yourself out there to initiate conversation and a growing relationship!

To Learn and Get Motivated

Evening events bring a great opportunity for attendees to have one-on-one time with peers they never get to meet-up with on a regular basis. It can be hard to never see someone in person due to travel distance, so take the time to make plans with peers you admire and who you know will make a great use of your time. If you have always wanted to share ideas with someone you know in a similar role as you from another company, take the time to see them at an event! It’s always fun to attend networking events together where you can introduce them to your team and vice versa. You never know what future projects and plans may stem from these in-person meetings!

Keep in mind as you engage and chat with peers or industry mentors, they are giving you advice you probably cannot just Google. We rely on our networks to advise us and keep us on track. In exchange, you give back where needed and will always have a credit in the back pocket with vendors and peers you have helped along the way!

To Find Solutions to Your Problems

Another reason to branch out and attend evening events at trade shows or conferences is meeting vendors who can change the pain points you experience on a daily basis in your role. It’s crucial to take the time to meet the staff at companies who can ultimately change the processes you have in place to be seamless and reduce cost and overall time spent for you and your team. If you are manually entering in leads from events, maybe there is a vendor you can network with who can help you set up an easy, automated process to get these entered in. This saves you not only time and stress, but provides you extra time to get high priority projects completed that are being pushed aside.

On the other side, you may find yourself chatting with a prospect looking for the exact service or product your company sales. It’s always a great feeling to know you are helping your brand by networking and making great connections.

In Conclusion

Every single new contact or friend you make at events is worth it. You may not see an immediate impact from these new relationships, but the hard core effects of networking are long lasting and fun! The next time you’re signed up to attend a conference consider branching out of your comfort zone, and checking out the scheduled evening events. You may find yourself making new contacts, and generating new business for your company!

about the author

Holly Barker
Holly Barker is a Digital Native with a passion to help shape events and brands through storytelling, creativity and digital magic. She has over 10 years of experience consisting of social media marketing, events and promotional management, digital marketing, and brand development. Follow Holly at @holsk.
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