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Tips for startups attending any conference

After reflecting on the conference experience as a young startup, this group emerged with some great tips for fellow startup folks.

Conference Dos Don'ts

Conference Dos Don'ts

When startups attend conferences

After winding down from a busy few days at the RealComm Conference in Las Vegas, our team had time to reflect on the event and what we were able to accomplish while we were there. RealComm, one of the largest commercial real estate technology conferences in the country, brings together innovative real estate technology and smart building companies with some of the largest national commercial real estate firms and gives them the opportunity to showcase their products and network with attending real estate professionals.

RealComm gave us opportunities to not only get valuable feedback on our platform that helps prospective tenants find office space to lease but also to explore potential synergies with other companies. We were able to get in front of a lot of decision makers and CIO’s of national commercial real estate firms, which is exactly the kind of exposure we’ve been seeking.

On top of the strategic relationships we made and the invaluable feedback we received on our product, we also came up with several DOs and DON’Ts of properly marketing your company at an industry conference that we thought were worth sharing.

Tips of what TO DO at a conference

Research the conference and attendees ahead of time.
It’s paramount that you understand how your company fits into the overall theme of the event and which other companies and individuals will be there. You need to understand who might be interested in hearing about your efforts and which organizations might offer the opportunity to help your company grow.

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Be proactive and reach out to the people you want to visit with before the event
Conferences can be hectic and you never know if you will actually have the opportunity to get in front of the people you need to get in front of. Giving them a heads up on who you are and that you’d be interested in setting up a block of time to get acquainted face to face is a great way to avoid missing out on the chance come game day.

Once at the conference (this should go without saying), go introduce yourself to everyone. This is no time to be a bump on a log!
It’s amazing how often people wait for others to approach them. That’s not how the world works. If you want to talk to someone, it’s up to YOU to initiate the conversation.

Tips on what NOT TO DO at a conference

Do not stay together with your team.
Spread out! The more people you have canvassing the event, the more introductions and useful conversations you are bound to have. We had someone tell us a while back “when you’re at any kind of conference as a group, act like you’re there alone. If a team member has an interesting conversation, he can always grab a business card and fill the rest of the team in later.

Secure a booth or kiosk
On the surface, it always seems like a good idea to have a “home base” at the event where you can market your company and possibly even hold demonstrations of your product(s). The problem is that as a start up, having a booth almost always costs money and it locks you down to one location. You’re stuck in one place rather than having the flexibility to canvas other booths and talk to as many people as possible. Remember, it’s about you approaching everyone else, not the other way around.

The trip culminated with us participating in the Innovation Showcase where we demoed our product in front of the entire conference. A great end to a terrific couple of days in Vegas… though vastly different from any Vegas trip we had taken before!

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Written By

Justin Lee is a licensed commercial real estate broker with experience in commercial property leasing and development. He along with two other co-founders launched TheSquareFoot with the goal of making the space leasing process more digestible for small business owners and entrepreneurs. You can follow them on Facebook and on Twitter @TheSqFt.



  1. abodograph

    July 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    @AGBeat Great post, and timely. Thanks!

    • AGBeat

      July 22, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      @abodograph thanks!

  2. Seth Siegler

    July 22, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Great post.  The last point of not getting a booth is interesting but I think it depends on the situation.  I believe that people need to see your app somehow, in most cases.  In the author’s case, they were able to get on stage and nothing beats that.  If you get on stage for a a demo, screw the booth!  You’ll be much better off with a “guerrilla style”  for the rest of the event.  If you aren’t getting on stage though, and you app isn’t on a phone that you can easily show off in a conversation, I think you’ll need to get some kind of booth or demo station.  

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