Most professional businesspeople don’t need too much coaching to network at a conference. This is especially true for NALMCO members. However, NALMCO’s "Speed Dating" program is a unique networking event that requires organized preparation to get the most out of the event. The event is designed to allow General Members to briefly converse with Associate Members to learn what the other does and decide if there is more to discuss.
If there is a match in the products or services discussed, then a 1-on-1 meeting can be scheduled at the Associate’s booth or another location during the conference. Being prepared will help you develop the relationships necessary to develop your business within the NALMCO organization.
Do your research. The Speed Dating event is the best opportunity for Associate Members to gain a rapid understanding of who the General Members are and what they do. Be sure to use the NALMCO website Membership Directory to learn who the General Members are and what they do.
Develop your introductory pitch. You only have two minutes to introduce yourself, describe your products or services, learn what the General Member does and if there is a reason for further discussion. If you don’t prepare, you may leave out some key reasons for working with you or run out of time to explore ways to work together.
Ask for a separate meeting during the conference if you think there is solid fit or if the General Member expresses a use for your offering. You will receive a card with times listed, which you can use to schedule meetings during the exhibition hours.
Be sure to ask for a business card. It’s important to support your investment in time and money to attend the conference by recording your activity. As you review your schedule, you may find that you will need to follow up at a later date.
Don't push for meetings just to have another meeting. Remember that if you have a compelling product or service the General Member uses or has expressed an interest in, they will agree to meet. If they don’t, be gracious and continue to follow up post-conference.
Understand that these professional long-term relationships develop over the years. Recording contact information developed each year helps you keep up with changes in the industry and forge the close relationships required to succeed.
Develop appropriate expectations from the event. One of the reasons you are attending the NALMCO Conference is that you understand the business benefits of working with dedicated lighting professionals. Part of General Members’ professionalism includes their loyalty to trusted partners. Writing a large order during this conference is possible, but not likely.
General Members will be sitting in place as Associate Members navigate to each table.
Understand that the event allows more than 60 Associate Members to sit down with you for 2 minutes to provide a very brief overview of their products or services. Each visit is followed by a 1-minute break as the Associates move to the next table.
Be prepared with a quick overview of what your business does and why you are a NALMCO member. This may help the visiting Associate understand very quickly if there might be a professional fit.
Bring enough business cards for exchange. There may be 2 or 3 Associates per meeting, so having 200 cards should be sufficient.
Have water or a beverage when you sit down. There will be a lot of talking in a brief period of time, but you’ll be glad you did.
If you don’t think you can stay at the meeting table for 3 hours, try to schedule another member of your company to be there with you so you can take a quick break. Having 2 members from your company with you can also increase the number of beneficial relationships formed during the event.