Better Networking at B2B Events

So many b2b events, such little time.

We’ve all heard the classic phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  Networking is everything in today’s world--and that is especially true when it comes to the marketing industry.  Though social media and the internet play an ever-increasing role in networking, the simple truth of the matter is that humans are hard-wired to form deeper, more meaningful connections in-person.  That’s exactly why marketing events are so important for b2b marketers.

b2b Events by the numbers

Recent studies show that 80% of all b2b marketers have either hosted or attended a conference, 69% have hosted or attended a trade show, and 44% have hosted or attended partner events.  That same study showed impressive attendance for other b2b related events such as user group meetings, receptions, entertainment, press conferences, and charity events.  These statistics underscore the confidence that marketers have in the importance of event marketing--after all, they wouldn’t be hosting and attending so many events if they didn’t believe that this investment was going to pay off.  But that ROI is exactly the subject we’re going to delve into here as we ask the question: how should b2b marketers evaluate and prioritize events. 

 

Event ROI Worksheet

What's your event ROI? Download this free worksheet to find out.

 

Questions to ask about every b2b event you'd like to attend.

In order to “work smart” rather than “work hard,” it’s important to weed out events that are unlikely to offer any real value to you--whether that value be connections, new information, etc. These 3 questions will help you evaluate the potential benefits offered by each event you consider hosting or attending--though you may wish to add a few criteria of your own depending on your industry and your individual goals.

1) Is this event unique? 

Does the event promise something that other events might not be able to promise?  If this is the case, it is probably worth prioritizing.  After all, not only does a unique offer new contacts, new information, and a worthwhile experience--it also provides a more memorable setting that could help solidify the new connections you make.

2) Is this event being marketed well? 

This sounds so obvious it hurts, but it needs to be said: an event that no one attends is a huge waste of time.  If you are considering investing your time and money in attending an event, make sure that the organizers are investing their time and money in the event as well--check it out on social media, and do your part to help promote it among your contacts as well.  If you are hosting an event, make sure you set aside a budget for promotion, including paid social!  Sure, it may seem like a big expenditure, but it’s going to make the rest of the time and effort you put into organizing the event worth it.

3) Am I striking a good balance in the types of events I choose to attend? 

Last but not least, it’s important to be introspective and ask questions about yourself as well.  Sure, that conference you’re planning on attending might be great--but if nine of the last ten events you attended were all conferences, you may wish to redirect your efforts and diversify your event schedule a bit.  Conferences, trade shows, receptions, press conferences, fundraisers, and charities all have their place--and the more balanced your event schedule, the more you’ll optimize its benefits.

Conclusion

b2b events offer one of the few remaining opportunities to genuinely connect with customers, partners and industry players - and break media and technology saturation. But by the token, events often take time, money and resources to travel to and attend. So be certain to vet your event schedule ahead of time and make the most of each business event with a game plan to maximize the value of your network.