Not so long ago, conferences were among the most popular and effective sourcing opportunities for dealmakers. Trade shows were perfect for packing a lot of research and meetings into just a few days.
Then, COVID-19 hit. Across the globe, more than 500 trade shows were cancelled within just a couple of weeks. One minute dealmakers were shaking hands in expo halls, and the next they were dialing into Zoom meetings from home offices. Firms couldn’t wait for things to go back to “normal.”
But the pandemic taught us that while there’s no substitute for the power of human connection, technology and data have advanced to a point where they can help operationalize other key parts of dealmaking to enhance efficiency, accelerate deal flow, improve conversion rates, and maximize deal value.
And now that trade shows are reappearing on the calendar, new school dealmakers are embracing a new normal that harnesses the “science” of tools like SourceScrub to enhance the “art” of building personal relationships at conferences.
Taking this hybrid approach allows firms to optimize their post-COVID conference networking strategies in 3 highly impactful ways. Read on to learn more about how to generate leads at events and how to network effectively in 2021 and beyond.
#1: Attend Only the Highest Value Conferences
In the past, sourcing deals from conferences meant firms had to attend every big show and talk to as many people as possible, or risk missing out on key opportunities. But how many of these conversations actually turned into transactions?
By leveraging the latest conference intelligence technology, modern firms can pinpoint which shows will have the highest concentration of relevant companies before they attend. It’s even possible to discover and prioritize smaller, lesser-known conferences where top targets plan to go, enabling firms to get more ROI from travel time and budgets.
To further increase the effectiveness of your attendance, head into every relevant private equity networking event or investment banking conference with a full understanding of your goals and make decisions accordingly. Ask yourself:
- What am I trying to accomplish? Do I want to meet new potential clients or further nurture existing relationships to drive investment opportunities?
- Which potential clients will be in attendance that I should schedule meetings with?
- How many and which companies within the industry sector will also be there?
- What kind of opportunities can I create to schedule meetings or get in front of key stakeholders?
Knowing the answers to these important questions is helpful in deciding which industry events are can’t-miss opportunities and which you can skip.
#2: Make the Most of Every Mile
Eighteen months of meeting with and learning about companies over Zoom makes traveling five hours to share a boxed trade show lunch with an early-stage prospect feel excessive. Not to mention, in an effort to make up for time and money lost during the pandemic, gas, airline, and hotel prices are nearing all-time highs. It’s important that firms make conference travel a truly worthwhile endeavor.
Make sure you have the final conference attendance list and agenda prior to the event, and that your entire team learns them inside and out. Doing due diligence on who will be in attendance, where they will be, and when they’ll be there is essential to ensuring you’re in the right place at the right time. When your team is aligned on a networking strategy plan, you’ll be able to cover more ground.
New school firms like LFM Capital use data services to identify companies in specific zip codes and then score them by thesis alignment. This way, dealmakers can make the most of conference travel by scheduling off-site meetings or happy hours with highly relevant opportunities while they’re in town.
#3: Book More Meetings with the Right People
Identifying companies you want to meet at a trade show is only half the battle. How can you make sure you stand out from the dozens of other dealmakers vying for founders’ trade show time — time that they would rather spend with their own potential customers?
SourceScrub solves the first part of this problem by providing firms with highly accurate executive contact information, even for non-transacted companies. It also automatically surfaces hundreds of data points dealmakers can use to personalize pre-conference outreach and in-person conversations, saving firms hours of research and helping them stand out from the competition.
Whether you're using Salesforce, Dynamo, Affinity, DealCloud, SugarCRM, or another CRM, be sure to keep track of all of the contact and company information your firm has gathered, and the conversations that you’re having. SourceScrub integrates with each of these CRMs to help ensure that data is synced accurately across the end-to-end deal origination process. If you aren’t leveraging a CRM, you’re far less likely to ensure relationships stay fresh and opportunities don’t get lost.
Back to Conference Networking Season
Conference season is back and the number of scheduled trade shows is on the rise. But conference networking is unpredictable and many firms are left wondering how to generate leads at events. Making the right connections is often an expensive game of chance.
That’s why modern firms are taking everything they learned over the last 18 months and establishing a hybrid approach to their post-COVID conference strategies — one that marries the art and the science of dealmaking.
Learn how to generate leads at trade shows more efficiently and effectively when you download our free guide: How Modern Dealmakers Use SourceScrub to Build Smarter Post-COVID Conference Strategies.