Traditionally, most organizations rely on sales reps to be the face of their brand at industry and networking events. It may, however, be time to rethink that strategy, especially if you have a remote workforce telecommuting from other cities, states, or even countries.
By sending these professionals out into their communities, you’re expanding your reach to new clients and professional partners. You’re also offering these employees an opportunity to strengthen their connection to your organization and take ownership of the brand. That being said, trade shows, professional mixers, and similar events can be incredibly intimidating for first-time participants.
Consider sharing these tips with your employees to give them the support they need to represent your team confidently!
To prime your employees for success, the first step is to identify events that are a good fit for your brand. If any of your remote employees are eager to participate in the selection process, include them by asking about any events they know of in their area. It doesn’t hurt to give your workers the opportunity to make the case for events you aren’t certain about — as locals, they might have a better idea of how the event works and who goes.
It’s crucial to incentivize, particularly if you are asking employees to scout out events on their own. At the minimum, pay them for the time they’ll be spending at the event. If you use a time tracking system with mobile capabilities, this will be as easy as having them clock in upon arrival at the event. Just as importantly, make it clear that their efforts are appreciated. You can tell them this directly, by including “higher-ups” in emails about the event, offering public praise, and by giving the event a clear purpose.
Speaking of a clear purpose, don’t forget to give your employees a clear set of priorities and points of focus.
Discuss the purpose of attending this event. If it’s to meet potential clients, make sure they understand your target audience — and that it makes sense to reach out to people in their community.
If it’s just to get the name and brand out there, go over the brand message and mission. Finally, make sure you have a conversation about the most recent company updates — things like new services, new branding, or anything else that could be relevant.
Oh — and make sure they understand that even if they are trying to meet clients, they don’t need to be, well, too outwardly sales. Confidence should come first when networking — nervous sales pitches just make everyone uncomfortable.
This goes hand in hand with an incentive. Outline what costs will be comped, and ask the employee to review them in advance. Provide them with an easy way to track their time (especially important if you’ve agreed to also compensate them for the time it takes to set up).
If an employee will be representing you at an event, they must have business cards. These cards should match the look and feel of your overall brand. If you don’t have time or bandwidth to provide cards, work them into the budget for the event and allow employees to create their own.
Brochures, Swag or other Promo Materials
This one isn’t so important if your employee will be attending a mixer or other networking event, but it’s big if they’re going to a tradeshow. It’s even bigger if they’ll be running a booth. Make sure to send items along at least a week before the event so they arrive on time. Work them into the budget if you don’t have time — both the overall event budget and the budgeted time they will spend designing and selecting items.
Thank your employee sincerely after the event. It takes courage to go to an event like this alone! Make sure that they understand that you appreciate the commitment it shows to your team. Even if the event itself was nerve-wracking, they’ll leave feeling good about the experience–and better prepared to represent your brand in the future, whether at networking events or out in the real world.
Get some extra bang for your networking or tradeshow buck, and share pics and notes from the event via social media, newsletter, or blog. One cute idea? With the FingerCheck app, employees can send selfies at the clock in and clock out — great for book-ending a big event!