5 tips for attending creative agency conferences

Function Point recently attended and sponsored the Mirren New Business conference in NYC and I was lucky enough to attend. It was a great event and the list of agencies in attendance was pretty impressive. Being an exhibitor, it’s important to make as many connections as possible and this event provided some great opportunities to rub elbows with top agency brass.

Over the course of the event, I was reminded of some key tips and rules for attending conferences (especially as an exhibitor) and I’d like to share those with you.

1. Bring breath mints. Luckily everyone at the Mirren conference seemed to adhere to this rule as minty fresh conversations were had by all. However, if you forget this rule then don’t expect a gathering at your booth.

2. Setup near the food. Nobody is going to want to talk to you if your booth is 50 feet away from the mini beef wellington. Ironically, the best networking happens with a mouthful of crackers and cheese. If you’re stuck with a booth that’s far away from the delicious bite-sized morsels, grab some of your swag and park yourself near the shrimp. They’re always a crowd pleaser.

3. Bring good swag. Take a look at your company’s swag and ask yourself, “would I be excited to be handed this?” If the answer is anything but, “hell ya!” then you need to bring something else. Function Point brought branded yo-yos to Mirren. Sure we got some funny looks and a few confused head scratches but most people were pretty excited to give’em a try. Bring something cool because nobody wants another pen.

4. Attend the after parties. Some of the best connections are made with a beer in hand. Nobody wants to be pitched at the bar and that’s not the point of attending the after party. The point is to make yourself approachable, make others comfortable with you and of course to have a good time. Crack a few jokes, have a few laughs and the people you meet will be much more likely to visit your booth the next day. They’ll also be more likely to want to work with you after the conference if they like you. Just remember to stay light on the drinks. You don’t want to end up being “that guy”.

5. Wear comfy shoes. Unless you’re watching a presentation, you should never be sitting down at a conference. That means that you’re going to spend about 8 hours on your feet. If you want to know how important comfy shoes are, just ask a barista.

Overall, the Mirren New Business conference was great. Good connections were made and my comfy shoes never failed me. Hopefully we’ll be back next year.

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