There are many reasons to be excited for the 2017 National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) International Business & Leadership Conference, August 1-4, in Las Vegas. For organizations, the conference is an invaluable opportunity to incorporate more LGBT-owned businesses into your supply chain and build your professional network. We’re also proud to announce that AMI is the first LGBT Business & Enterprise presenting sponsor.
Because we’re top supporters of the NGLCC and the annual conferences, we’re sharing our top five tips to help you get the most out of your conference experience this year.
- Preparation is key
Review the schedule of events ahead of the conference, and, where available, the companies and speakers that will be attending. Ask previous attendees in your network what they found most helpful, or check out the conference hashtag on Twitter (#NGLCC17) to see what organizers and attendees are already talking about. Set goals for what you’d like to focus on and achieve.
Also, make sure you’re bringing what you need to do some heavy networking. Do you have enough business cards, collateral, and promotional items to get you through all four days of the conference? Do you have a good way to keep track of new contacts for follow-ups?
- Get strategic with your networking
Introduce yourself as is comfortable before the event to attendees you’d like a meeting with to ensure that you get on their schedule during the conference. Don’t be afraid to ask LinkedIn connections to make the introduction or give a friendly cold call.
During the conference, divide your time up strategically based on what you’re hoping to get out of the conference. In addition to one-on-one meetings, put yourself in group networking scenarios to meet more people. Don’t forget about existing business connections who will attend—it’s a good time to build upon your existing relationships at the conference as well.
- Take advantage of the conference offerings
There are both pre-conference and opening-day receptions that you won’t want to miss, amazing performers and keynote speakers, as well as NGLCC events every evening. Select your breakout sessions wisely—not just by the title, but by the credentials and experience of the speaker. The Marketplace Expo is a great time to visit the booths of Corporate and Supplier attendees.
NGLCC’s Supplier-to-Supplier and Corporate Matchmaker sessions are ideal for making B2B introductions in your industry, or connecting LGBT businesses with opportunities in your supply chain. These are by appointment only, so schedule in advance.
- Pace yourself
Conferences can be exhausting, and no matter how hard you try or how organized you are, you won’t be able to do everything. Prioritize what’s most important and what can wait until next year’s conference. And make sure you have moments of planned downtime to avoid burnout. To keep up your stamina, consider healthy eating and drinking, and try to take part in the organized Morning Group Exercise, or Corporate/Supplier Walk & Talks.
Don’t forget to have fun, too!
- It’s all about the follow-up
After taking notes on a breakout session, list three key takeaways before moving on to the next presentation. It’ll be easier to scan later if you capture essential points while they’re fresh.
Keep careful track of any new connections, noting meeting context or details on business cards. Timely and specific follow-up with the next steps via email or phone will be instrumental in securing new relationships after the conference.
Stop by the AMI booth in the Marketplace Expo at this year’s NGLCC Conference to meet our team and pick up a free gift that will keep you charged throughout the conference.
Let’s chat before this year’s event.
We’ve arranged a virtual meet-up call on July 11, 2017, for NGLCC attendees and those who want to know more before registering. Your hosts are AMI and Bristol Myers-Squibb Director of Supplier Diversity, Rondu Vincent. Contact us at bd@AmericanMeetings.com to register for the call and get dial-in information.