Have you heard of the term “social capital”? This is a wealth concept that isn’t easily defined. Most people aren’t even aware that they have it. In simplistic terms, it’s the idea that the social contacts that you have are direct pathways to security and increased wealth. Imagine the opportunities that might be offered to the children of a millionaire versus a poor, first generation immigrant. So many rags to riches stories are based in an instance of a person of stellar skill or character in a lower class, making the right connections and choices to lift themselves out of poverty. They either find the correct pathway by chance (exceedingly hard to do), or through a connection.
You might be wondering, why on earth is this topic being posted on an event management blog? Well, I’m glad you asked! The whole point of events is not actually the experience. It’s the connections you make while you are there. The experience is just a fun side benefit, and an excuse to bring your family along on your work dime. 🙂
We specialize in B2B events, encompassing professionals from research, to business development, marketing and C-suite executives. It doesn’t matter if you’re an engineer, a software developer, or a VP of marketing, you need connections. The success or failure of your team can often rest on those very connections. An example of this is a story I heard from one attendee who was talking with an exhibitor at a tradeshow. The attendee didn’t really need to purchase anything from the exhibitor, but what they did need was a partnership. The two walked away with the promise of further collaboration and projects. On one hand, the exhibitor may see that as a low value connection if their goals are sales specific. While on the other hand, if they think longer term, they recognize the value in the potential connection with an influential individual.
Did you know that advertisers have stopped using celebrities in their ads? They are expensive and rarely bring a return on investment. What they have been leveraging now is the grassroots community that follows a specific influencer. Because that influencer has built trust with their audience, and they are also vetting the product to verify that it works. Just check out the story around the Stanley cups in the last year.
How does this matter if you’re not selling a product? On a personal level, the connections you make at a B2B event can directly impact the career path that you have in front of you. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that research teams don’t want to send their team members to an event because they might get poached. While that’s a risk in sending your team, (which if they’re getting poached, you might ask why they want to leave? That’s a whole other topic that I probably shouldn’t touch!) you need to think bigger picture on the connections your team members make when they are on site. What challenges do you want to solve? Do you need to see what’s coming in the market and need the inside scoop? Do you have a need for training or development in your team that’s not available online? Most B2B events offer matchmaking services when you sign into the app. You can specify ahead of time what you’re looking for and the event organizers will put you in front of those people. Alternatively, you can search through the event app, looking for the profiles of the people who fit what you’re looking for.
But at the end of the day, you can’t beat the connection that you make standing in the hallway with a cup of coffee telling your story. It’s the chance to talk to someone who may be an influencer, or a decision maker, or just the colleague that you’re looking for to verbally process the roadblocks you’re facing. These connections are authentic, exciting, and delightful when they happen. Just make sure to snag their contact info when you say goodbye! And take a picture so you remember who they are. You just made yourself a little bit wealthier.