As the new year is in full swing, no doubt you'll be thinking about events, particularly Shopify events and eCommerce conferences that are coming up. However, are they worth attending? As a Shopify merchant or partner, working out how to get the best from these events is always tricky. This is something that we here at Blend also find quite difficult to do. When it comes to picking events it's quite difficult to choose which one to go to, so it’s a good idea to make a checklist or process that you'll go through to decide on which events to attend and which not to. Once you’ve found an event that appeals to you, there are plenty of elements to the event you’ll need to consider before booking.
What should I be looking out for while planning?
First of all, the most important thing to do is have a read up on the events on offer, have a look at the content to see if it's important to you, plan what you want to get out of the event and double-check how easily accessible it is. Obviously it's going to cost in terms of transport and accommodation, so make sure you factor that in by planning and checking your travel routes such as train times and delays, checking out coach alternatives and finding a hotel that suits your budget. Also, have a look at the speakers at the event, you wouldn’t want to attend to find the speakers you've heard many times before as this could be quite counterproductive.
How can I ensure the event is worthwhile?
While you are researching the speakers at the event, make sure you connect with them on LinkedIn, have a chat and attempt to arrange a small meeting at the event. Therefore you can lock that activity in before you buy a ticket. This is a great tactic if you need to justify this cost to a business partner or let's say you're an eCommerce manager for a high growth brand on Shopify, you can go to the CEO and explain the incentive of the meeting that is lined up already. Say it’s a $1,000 trip, if we could meet with this person, would we eventually gain that $1,000 back from the potential knowledge growth of the event and meeting’s arranged? In order to grow, these connections need to be made and therefore the funding risks need to be taken.
How can I get the most out of the event?
It’s extremely important that you put a plan together of what you want to receive from the event by having a look at all the aspects that are important to you. For example, do you want to find leads? Or do you want more information and tips on certain areas of Shopify? When you're there, make sure you're fulfilling all these objectives by noting down everything that's important within your conversations because you're not going to remember them when you get home.
What can I do after the event?
Once you are home, follow-ups are necessary, and you've got to do it as quickly as you can because you want to make sure they remember you so there's no point waiting two weeks and then contacting them. Make sure you get in contact on either the same day as the event or the next day. If you've had a good positive conversation, and they've shown interest, they may be expecting you to ask that question. Even if they don't reply for a few days, at least you know, you've done all you can. And if you don't hear from them for another week, maybe just drop them another line and then leave that outside.
What if I’m part of a Merchant, Partner or Agency?
From another perspective, if you’re going as a merchant, partner or agency, some of the principles are the same. You still need to make sure you're planning in advance, networking on the night and making sure you're delivering on your promises afterwards. It makes a big difference to go the extra mile, so make the effort to ensure the conversation is memorable for both parties. Maybe give them some merchandise to take away so they have a physical item with your brand on it, that will help them to remember you afterwards and will most likely look you up afterwards.
Is competition really healthy?
Don’t steer clear from your competitors just because you're doing the same as each other. Interaction can benefit both parties by learning from each other. By building those relationships with competitors, you may actually learn something from them that you never thought of before arriving. It’s far from rare to see two different partners collaborating regularly or even joining forces.
How much should I plan?
Pre-planning for your conversations at events can come with the risks of sounding too robotic and coming across too “salesy”. People are coming to these events for networking and won’t want to be sold to. However, if you're someone that gets quite nervous about these events then prepare a small amount by thinking about what you want to get out of it, rehearse a little bit about how you would want to go into that.
How should I conduct myself?
It's known that body language can actually mean more to people than words, so just be as natural as you would be speaking to someone in the office or a friendly encounter in public. As long as you are polite, smiling and relaxed you will be more than successful with your networking. You won’t look approachable if you are sat tightly or looking bored, so ensure you look like you are enjoying yourself at least!
How do I arrange so much into one event?
The main thing is don't schedule too much. Having a plan for events is vital to success, however planning more meetings than you can realistically handle isn’t going to work. If you’re at a point where you want to meet with more people than possible, prioritise the list of people by who you believe will be the most helpful to you by reflecting upon the current status and progress of your business. Which meetings are going to help push your business in the right direction?
Everyone had a first time
The most important thing to remember is that all networkers have experienced that first time at an event. It's always going to be intimidating for the first time, and especially if you have a room full of people that you don't know. The best thing for it is to just urge yourself to talk to people, maybe go for people that you know, or have heard of. Everyone is there to socialise, learn or help others and practice makes perfect. So the more of these events you go to, the more you're going to get to know the faces when you're there. If you’re someone who's quite confident at these events, perhaps go and speak to somebody that you don't know in the room because it could be their first time. Just remember everyone's there for the same goal and wants to chat, so just relax and enjoy it.
Events we love
We have attended some great events previously, such as Klaviyo Boston, a very well executed event with plenty of practical ‘hands-on’ activities which was a great way to learn about the platform as it was accessible for attendees at any experience level and everyone could learn and benefit from it. This was similar to the Charge X event with Shopify partners Recharge, another very hands-on event with plenty of networking opportunities but being a smaller event there was a much higher concentration of great specific information.
With events in mind, our next Shopify meetup is happening on the 11th of March in Leamington, so make sure you come visit us and put your newly found event’s skill-set into practice. If you are coming to our event or attending any in the future, why not sign up below and receive a free events checklist straight to your inbox.