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Face It: Prepping For Live Events

There’s still a national crisis. But mortgage conferences are returning. Here’s how to prepare.

Erica LaCentra headshot
Insider
Erica LaCentra
Conference meeting

In the mortgage industry, the summer usually signals the start of tradeshow season, an insanely busy time from June through mid-November where every major conference, expo, and event in this space happens in rapid succession. As hectic as this time of year is for most companies, when coordinated properly, it can drive enough business to set you up for success well into the following year. 

With COVID-numbers dropping and more people getting vaccinated, all signs point to tradeshow season having a strong return in 2021. Now if you are like me and have been off the trade show circuit for close to a year, your networking skills and general event etiquette may not be as polished as they once were. However, not to worry, here is a helpful guide to get back in the swing of things and make the most of any upcoming events.

Be Proactive

A lot has changed with events post-pandemic, both for attendees and sponsors. In many areas of the country, there are still active COVID-related restrictions. Everything from expected social distancing measures like one-way exhibit hall traffic and mask mandates, to more unexpected guidelines like temperature checks before entering, restrictions on being able to hand out printed materials, limits on the amount of attendees in speaking sessions and more may be in place.  So, it’s important to be aware of what restrictions or requirements there currently are and prepare accordingly as events may not be in the same format as you were used to years past.

Most conferences have started to send out an event guide or will have one available on their event website for review before the show kicks off. And of course, when in doubt, reach out to event staff to ask or clarify beforehand to ensure you are ready to go once onsite. There is no such thing as being too prepared.

Be Prepared

Tradeshow preparedness rule number one is to have a way to provide the contacts you meet at events with contact information so they can get in touch with you once the event concludes. While business cards were the go-to method pre-COVID, and are still a pretty safe bet, you may run into some folks that are looking for a more hands-off way to exchange information and thankfully there are several available options.

First, for exhibitors, many conferences continue to offer badge scanners which allow you to scan barcodes on attendee badges throughout the event and then you are provided with a final list of contacts and contact information in a format like excel that is easy to use for post-event follow up. Some conferences have also started adding QR codes to attendee badges that can be scanned to download contact information. 

The use of QR codes is also a particularly smart idea for exhibitors or sponsors to emulate at their own exhibit booths. Rather than handing out numerous print materials or having them on hand for attendees to pick up, consider including a large, easily visible QR code at your booth that allows people to instantly download your marketing materials, sign-up for more information about your services, or get added to your email list for follow-up once the show ends. This will provide attendees with instant access to the information they need, take the guess work out of signing up, and make it much easier for you to follow-up post show, rather than shuffling through stacks of collected business cards.

Finally, check to see if the conference you are attending has a corresponding app which should be available for both attendee and sponsor use. If that is the case, make sure you have it downloaded, and your information is up-to-date since most events that have a app will allow you to have early access to attendee information. This means you can scope out high priority prospects, set meetings, and make connections before the event even starts, giving you an even better opportunity to make the most of your involvement.

Be Professional

Displaying professional at industry events should go without saying, but especially during this transition period back to in-person conferences. I continue to witness varying degrees of comfort from individuals at events when it came to things as simple as shaking hands and networking with large groups of people, to wearing masks when events were in parts of the country where restrictions were looser. So, it is important to make note of this and be a bit more mindful of your interactions with others. 

Thankfully, a work around is usually pretty simple to figure out so you can still effectively network and connect with the right people. If someone expresses their discomfort, just be courteous and maybe offer someone a fist bump or elbow bump rather than a handshake or suggest a one-on-one meeting outdoors rather than a meeting in a large group setting. Not only will people appreciate the gesture, you will also more likely leave a lasting impression by accommodating them. 

So, with these tips in mind, take the time time to get ready for trade show season and most importantly, safe travels.

Close more loans, be more efficient, stay out of trouble.

Find more at Pro School
This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine June 2021 issue.
Erica LaCentra headshot
Erica LaCentra

Erica LaCentra is director of marketing for RCN Capital.

Published on
Jun 19, 2021
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Connect with your local mortgage community.

Meet your your colleagues, both national and local, by attending an event in your area.