How Buyers Can Make the Most of Attending an Exchange Event

You’ve registered for an exchange event. Congratulations! Exchange events are an optimal way for busy professionals like you to get detailed information about the products and services your organization needs. Now it’s time to get ready to make the most of your exchange event experience. Whether you’ve attended an appointment-based event before or this will be your first time, there are several ways you can prepare to maximize your time:

Familiarize yourself with the exchange event format

Exchange events are gatherings that consist of a series of pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings between buyers and suppliers to discuss product offerings and establish working relationships. These smaller trade events host 120-150 attendees who make trusting, friendly relationships that mutually benefit each party. They typically include receptions and meals so that all attendees have extra time to chat and exchange ideas. Buyers say the format can be exhausting because you’re always “on,” but that exchange events are so productive that attending is well worth the rest needed afterward.

Get to know the venue

If you’re attending in-person, familiarize yourself with the venue and its location so you know how to get there, where to park, and where to check in. If you’re attending virtually, log into the platform at least a couple days in advance to set up your profile and click around so you’ll know exactly where to click to enter your first meeting on time.

Knowing these small details can deliver a big confidence boost and begin your exchange event experience on the right note!

Make a “must meet” list

A few days before the exchange event, log on to the event’s website and spend some time browsing the profiles of supplier attendees to determine which companies interest you. You can request an appointment with them during the event through the event portal. If they accept, your meeting will be automatically added to both of your calendars.

If a supplier is fully booked for the exchange event, make a note to yourself that you want to speak with them during a break or meal. Exchange events are small for this very reason – to allow all attendees to introduce themselves and have the opportunity to converse, even if it’s not during an official appointment.

Reach out to other buyers

Take a look at the list of buyers attending as well. You might recognize the names of peers who have tackled projects similar to the ones you’re seeking more information about now. Planning to have a conversation with them during the event could be as beneficial as those with suppliers who can help solve your business challenges.

Know what to ask suppliers

What do you want to learn from the suppliers you’ll meet with at the exchange event? Prepare a list of questions that are essential for your organization to know the answer to before you agree to work with a vendor. Some sample questions from our buyers include:

  • Does your product meet the needs of our customers/members/audience?
  • Can your product/service replace our current product at the same cost?
  • What quirks about your product should we know about?
  • What is the process for implementing your service?
  • How long will it take to integrate your product/service into our operations?
  • How much training is needed to use your product/service?
  • Do you offer training for field, marketing and sales teams?
  • What does your supply chain look like?
  • What volume limitations are you facing?
  • Do you require an exclusive agreement?
  • What kind of support can we expect from your company when using your product/service?

Minimize your distractions

Exchange events last just a couple days, but they feature a full schedule run on an efficient timetable. You’ll get the most out of your attendance if you can set aside as many distractions from home and your normal job responsibilities as possible. Let your co-workers know that while you’ll be reachable in case of emergency, you’ll otherwise be “off the grid” and not available to answer questions or work on projects while you attend your appointments. You’re still gathering information in pursuit of company goals!

This tip is especially important if you’re attending a virtual exchange event. The temptation to check emails, surf the web or work on normal projects will be strong. But you’ll see more return on your time if you can close the other tabs on your web browser, shut down your email, and turn off your cell phone (or at least silence your ringer) while you’re in meetings or between meetings. Keep your focus on the people you’re meeting and your goals for each appointment, and you’ll achieve more.

If you’re logging in remotely, try attending from somewhere out of the ordinary: your kitchen table instead of your home office, your office’s conference room instead of your desk, or a hotel room if you can afford to splurge. The change in surroundings may lessen the temptation to deal with everyday tasks instead of giving full attention to your appointments.

Take notes on paper

Psychological research shows that we remember more when we take notes on paper. It’s also easier to reference a notebook or notepad instead of searching out a Word doc or smartphone note after the event. If you’re attending virtually, taking notes on paper allows you to fully dedicate your screen to a view of the person you’re meeting with, which shows respect for their time as well.

Take a hike

We mean this in a literal way! Research shows that getting up from your meeting station (if you’re meeting in person) or desk (if you’re attending a virtual exchange event) and going for a walk can improve focus, aid with circulation, and generally make you feel better. When you feel better, you’ll be more productive. In between appointments, take 10 to 15 minutes to walk around the resort, your neighborhood, or your office park. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day’s schedule.

With a little preparation, you can fully realize the significant time savings exchange events offer. Instead of spending hours researching vendors to work with, you can meet with desired suppliers in an efficient, productive way through your appointment-based event. Consider these tips your ticket to an optimal exchange event experience! What tips would you add to this list?