Tag Archive | events

Checklist: 10 Essential Items For Conference Attendees

Baochi, the Director of Social Strategy at RingCentral, showing off her conference style!

Attending conferences and events is a great way to learn industry best practices and network with other like-minded professionals. But working outside the office can be challenging if you’re not well-prepared. As frequent conference-goer, on behalf of the RingCentral social media team, I have made my fair share of misses and mistakes. Luckily, I’m a quick learner! Below, is my list of essential items to bring when attending conferences.

Did I miss a must-have conference item? Let me know in the comments section below.

1. Smartphone – This shouldn’t be a difficult item to remember, since every business professional is often tethered to their smartphone anyway. Beyond the obvious functions of voice calls, texts and emails, use your smartphone to follow/participate in the conference’s Twitter stream. The smartphone camera is also a great asset for snapping photos of presentation slides or recording videos of speakers.

2. Broadband Wireless Card – Most conferences offer free Wi-Fi,  but the connections are almost always slow because attendees are accessing the same network and maxing out the bandwidth. If you don’t want to play the Wi-Fi lottery and risk the frustration of connectivity issues, bring your own hotspot. I like the Verizon MiFi hotspot, which gives me secure and fast internet access. Bonus: if you happen to meet a new business contact, you can show them what a kind soul you are by sharing your personal hotspot.

3. Chargers – Mark my words: you will run out of battery juice on whichever device(s) you bring. Bring chargers for all the devices you plan on using. Tip: purchase an extra set of chargers for your most well-used gadgets and reserve that set expressly for conferences and travel.

4. Power Strip – Even if you come prepared with all the necessary gadget chargers, there’s no guarantee you’ll find an outlet that is conveniently located or not already in use. That’s why a power strip can be handy — use only one power outlet to charge multiple devices. Even if you don’t need to charge multiple devices, you’ll be a hero to others in need when you offer up the extra outlets from your power strip. Power strips are relatively inexpensive, and these days you can find hybrids that also offer USB ports.

5. iPad/Tablet – While laptops are popular items to bring to events, they aren’t easy to lug around all day. Tablets are great conference companions because they’re smaller and lighter than a laptop, yet easier to type and navigate on than a smartphone. And if you have trouble typing on a tablet, you can always use a portable keyboard that connects to your tablet.

6. Business Cards – If you forget to bring business cards, it’s going to be tough to connect and follow up with other attendees  you meet. Don’t be that person desperately looking for a pen and scrap paper to scribble down your contact information — chances are, your “business card” will be mistaken as trash. So bring business cards or have a paperless alternative like the CamCard app.

7.  Get the App – Conferences are increasingly offering custom apps that include event agendas and the ability to build personal schedules that sync with your Outlook calendar. Some apps even allow you to view a list of attendees and connect directly with individuals to schedule meetings. Consulting an app is so much easier than carrying around a conference brochure!

Don’t fall victim to bad breath.

8. Gum/Mints – If you’re at a conference, then you’re talking to people. If you’re talking to people, don’t be a turn-off by having bad, stale breath. Have gum or mints on you (mints are better because you don’t want to be chomping away while you’re conversing). And be kind to anyone who asks for some.

9. Confidence – Events are great opportunities to make business connections so don’t squander the time by being shy. Get your confidence on! Scope out attendees ahead of time, and make a list of people you want to meet. Introduce yourself to a particular speaker after an especially insightful presentation. If you’re mining for prospects, have your company pitch ready and deliver it with oomph!

10. RingCentral app – The RingCentral app is an invaluable part of any mobile professional’s toolkit. With the app installed on your Android or iOS device, you can place VoIP calls over a Wi-Fi or cellular network, change your phone system settings on the fly (e.g., have your desk phone calls forwarded to your cellular phone), and view and forward fax messages. The RingCentral app puts your phone system in your pocket, keeping you plugged in and connected from just about anywhere — even while you’re at a conference. End shameless plug.

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10 Tips For Managing a Successful Trade Show Booth

RingCentral Booth at Dreamforce 2012

Even in our digitally connected world, nothing trumps the value of in-person meetings. That’s why RingCentral exhibits at various trade shows throughout the year. It’s a great opportunity to talk about our cloud-based communications platform to prospective and existing customers.

But managing a trade show booth is no easy task. As an event coordinator for RingCentral, I can tell you that organizing an exhibition is a huge effort that requires careful planning, attention to detail, persistence, and endurance.

Recently, I managed our trade show booth at Salesforce.com’s annual Dreamforce event. I’m happy to report that the conference was hugely successful for RingCentral. So I thought I’d share several tips on what we did right.

1. Make a master to-do list 
As elementary as it sounds, making a master list of to-do items and deliverables is a necessary starting point for event planning. Once you have all the requirements, it’s easier to organize items  into categories such as booth, staff, or demo. Be sure to check the event website for checklists and deadlines.

2. Become best friends with the event organizer
As an exhibitor at Dreamforce, we had a point of contact whom we consulted for guidance and advice on everything from choosing the booth’s location on the floor to obtaining permission for having a giant inflatable phone included in our display. Our event contact was an excellent and responsive resource — all the more so since she served multiple exhibitors.  So even when things got stressful, I always made sure to be gracious and grateful to our Dreamforce contact. When I met her in person at the event, I gave her a thank-you gift.

3. Keep the signage simple
To state the obvious, you want your signage and booth displays to be interesting and inviting. Think of your booth from a passerby’s perspective, i.e., someone who knows nothing about your product or service. Ask yourself whether the messaging conveys a meaningful description, something that leaves an impression in as few words as possible. You’re not likely to attract or stop people in their tracks with wordy signage, so keep it simple. Less is more.

4. Have a lead retrieval process
It’s no secret that trade shows can be a fount for sales leads, so be sure to establish a lead retrieval process. We recommend renting the portable scanners that are often offered through the organization hosting the event (or via a contracted service). If you expect a steady stream of traffic, rent more than one scanner — or else your staff will be scrambling constantly for the one device. Then, when the show is over, be sure to upload all contacts into your CRM system and mark them as leads from the specific show.

5. Follow up on leads
Leads are worth nothing without follow-up. Define the process for reaching out to contacts: who is responsible for  following up, and how will leads be divided among team members? The best time to reach out to leads is the week following an event, when conversations are still fresh on everyone’s mind. Therefore, establish a deadline for follow-up, e.g., no later than one full week after an event.

6. Offer a promotion and giveaway
Like with any marketing effort, you need to offer an incentive for attendees to stop by the booth to learn about your offering. At Dreamforce, we offered a 30-day free trial of RingCentral and gave away RingCentral-branded orange retro handsets to folks who watched a demo. Inevitably, you’ll encounter people who want your tchotchkes but have no interest in your product. That’s why it’s helpful to have a “hurdle,” such as requiring a demo, in order to net out the  tchotchke hounds from the folks who are truly interested.

7. Choose the right booth staff
In general, staff your booth with employees who are outgoing, articulate, and knowledgeable about your product. Note: be sure to provide training and talking points, even for company veterans. Staffers should be motivated and attentive — they should engage with customers and prospectives straightaway. I’ve observed plenty of booth staffers at other companies who continue chatting amongst themselves, even when there is a visitor present. Another no-no? Eating in the booth — it doesn’t project a professional image. Finally, make sure the booth staff consists of a combination of product experts, as well as salespeople.

8. Consider eye-catching attire
Logo-inscribed polo shirts are unremarkable. If you really want to stand out, consider spicing up the staff attire, whether it’s a splash of color or an unusual accessory. For Dreamforce, we ordered t-shirts with a vivid branded design and dressed up the look with orange leis and fedora hats. Between our signage, our giant inflatable phone, and our colorful attire, we were impossible to miss.

9. Build a demo and script
Seeing is believing, which is why it’s important that you demonstrate how your product or service works. This can be achieved with a simple but engaging powerpoint. Even more ideal are live demos. At Dreamforce, we showed RingCentral integrated with Salesforce.com through the actual user experience of activating different features. The product team built the demo and wrote the talking points, which were communicated during staff training.

10. Create a booth staff schedule
Last but certainly not least:  create a booth schedule that explicitly indicates when and where your staff is supposed to show up. Circulate the schedule several times prior to the actual event to give people a chance to request modifications. Set a deadline for when no further changes can be made. And be sure to include everyone’s contact information (mobile phone number) on the schedule, which you should widely distribute.

Did I miss something that you find critical in the exhibition process? Tell me in the comments section below.

RingCentral at Dreamforce 2012 {Video}

If you work in the Silicon Valley, or in the tech industry in general, then you’ve heard of Salesforce.com, and you’ve definitely heard of their biggest event – Dreamforce.

Well this year the conference was bigger and better than ever. From amazing speakers and sessions, to an expo hall full of all the hottest and latest tech companies, to the after parties, to the epic Red Hot Chili Peppers concert on the streets of downtown San Francisco there was no shortage of excitement and buzz about Dreamforce this year.

Lucky for me, as a member of the RingCentral Social Team, and the one responsible for event coordination, I was able to participate in all the fun! So, check out the video of the amazing RingCentral Dreamforce Dream Team in action at the 2012 event!

For more info on Dreamforce click here.

And a special thank you to everyone who helped me organize and put on the event, I couldn’t have done it without you!!

Me, working the RingCentral booth at Dreamforce 2012.