This year, in what is becoming something of a tradition, the iFX EXPO conference will take place on May 22-24 in Limassol (Cyprus). Members of the forex industry will gather to discuss market trends, share personal experience, and chat with regulators. For how to get the maximum benefit from these three days among industry representatives, we hear from Valentina Drofa, CEO of the PR agencies Drofa Group and ICOPR Agency.
These few days on Cyprus in late May are no beach resort: they can make your entire year, if you plan your activities right. iFX EXPO is a major industry event, where everyone is someone worth knowing. The only people here are those who will define forex’s future in the world, which means each of us has a wonderful opportunity to become one of them. Based on my clients’ and my agency’s experiences at this conference, I whittled down five key steps that will make attending iFX EXPO an excellent tool for promoting yourself and your services.
1. Define Your Goal
Clearly, if you’ve gotten yourself into such a serious and – to put it bluntly – expensive event, you must have some goal. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going with a huge booth or as an attendee. Obviously, all of us have a primary goal to sell something: the services of our company or ourselves as an employee, our expertise, and so on.
This may surprise you, but most attendees have not formulated their goal for attending the conference in any way, and have not discussed it amongst the team manning the event. “Show myself off,” “find clients,” “sell my services” don’t sound like goals that can be aimed for and judged at the end of the conference on whether you achieved them or not. If your company has set up its sales funnel, you should be able to accurately calculate how many meetings you need to schedule, how many you need to conduct, how many offers you need to send out, all to earn a specific amount. If you don’t have a sales funnel yet, at the very least try to set goals for generating income, contact info, and useful connections. If you specify the goal, it will be easier to achieve.
I formulate my goal in terms of the number of contracts I want to bring home from the event. We have a rather long sales cycle and take half a year to build on an established base, so I understand that I will not get immediate income from the expo. But after six months we take stock and see whether we achieved the goals we set. For now, all our expos and conferences have been a net gain.
2. Prepare an Itinerary
When you see what results you plan to achieve, you can plan the entire array of events you will conduct at the conference. You should keep in mind that the schedule at iFX EXPO is packed, so the first thing you have to do is study the program and understand where everything is located. The next step is to study the list of attendees. Split it into several parts based on contact priority – that will make it easier to schedule meetings. For the companies or people that have the highest priority, prepare a profile in advance: research those you plan to work with, read their corporate news, find reviews, and look on social media.
Schedule meetings in advance by writing to the people at the conference who interest you. This can be done on social media, or you can prepare an informational email in which you talk about yourself, what you want to chat about, and how you can be of service. These emails should be sent from your personal email, in order to develop personal connections. When the email contains a personal signature, a photo, and a link to social media, it will generate more responses.
Get all arrangements in writing and set down a timeline for yourself for each day, so that you understand what will be happening when and can make sure there will be no conflicts. Print your plan for each day in several copies, so that you always have it on hand if, say, your phone dies.
3. Maximize Your Efforts
If you want to work the conference for all it’s worth, your task is to get the maximum out of every activity: the conference itself, the afterparties, lunches, dinners, tea, coffee, and so on. Everything must have a benefit. Be visible: ask questions and participate in discussions. Schedule meetings for coffee breaks. Visit all the booths. You can’t sit and wait for people to come to you. No one pays attention to those who sit in the corner. (Unless it’s Bill Gates, I suppose.)
4. Be Open
It’s important to not just follow your activity plan, but also talk about it. Your social media, blog, company news feed must all be filled with information on where you are and what you are doing. Don’t just post photos: write posts, give reviews, talk about the conference sessions you liked, seek engagement from your audience, and tag yourself and iFX EXPO, so you are easier to find. Interview interesting people you meet and stream live.
We sell ourselves not just while we’re present in the hall, but also in how we talk about it. And even if you weren’t able to secure all the contracts you planned on and sell everything you wanted to, keep up your public activities. Your audience doesn’t know about your plans, but might come to know you as an expert providing valuable content from a major event. And that’s always an additional tick mark in your favor when deciding whether to make a deal.
At the last iFX EXPO, I took a lot of photos, wrote up my impressions of each event, and made livestreams. This all worked great: potential clients would find me at the event after seeing my activity in the Facebook feed about iFX EXPO
5. Follow Up
Work at the expo doesn’t stop after booths are taken down and the closing-day party winds down. Sort through the business cards you collected, write to everyone you promised to write to, and prepare commercial offers based on what you heard at the conference. Write a post-release about the event, post on your blog, summarize what you heard at iFX EXPO for the people who weren’t able to go. Everything that you do during and after the conference will not just benefit you now, but will become an important element of the foundation for your professional reputation.