Six strategies for building vital relationships at your meetings and events

We have all heard it a 1,000 times: relationships are everything. People do business with people they trust. When it comes to planning a relationship-building event, it is easy for meeting planners and their clients to quickly become bogged down by logistics and content.
building business relationships at corporate meetings, events and trade showsYou know the drill: focusing too much on the content, determining room capacities, fine-tuning the agenda and breakout topics… the list goes on. Your attendees can quickly sense that the focus is on the details and logistics instead of on them.

Here at AMI, our meeting planners are encouraged to step out of planning mode and work with our clients on building those vital relationship connections. We incorporate several strategies to foster relationships and to assist our clients in building their relationships with their attendees on a regular basis.

Here are six of our most common strategies:

  • Involve attendees in the planning process and ask for their input and opinion. Ask them for input on the agenda. How do they like to collaborate on an issue? If they have the feeling they have collaborated on and own a piece of the meeting or event, they are more likely to promote your product/organization.
  • Follow their “MO” (mode of operation). If they have a preferred method of communicating (i.e., email, phone, etc.), use it. If they have a particular system or certain key phrases that they use on a regular basis, adopt them into your method.
  • Pay particular attention to first-time attendees, and assign a staff member to focus only on newcomers. The role of that staff member is to seek connections with other newcomers and connect them. The more comfortable attendees feel at an event, the more likely they are to return.
  • Connect on a personal level. Listen carefully and make a mental note of interests you may have in common, for example, their favorite sports team, favorite travel destination, and general likes/dislikes. You can later reference that information to strike up or maintain further conversation.
  • Make a note of their favorite food or drink, and be sure to include that on a future menu or at a future event.
  • Engage them after the program. Follow-up and ask for their opinion on the results of specific areas of the content, or ask them how to improve the event next time.

Relationships with attendees are the foundation of building a strong network and, in turn, growing your bottom-line. While these strategies many seem like minute details, they can go a long way toward building strong relationships and ensuring they last for years to come.

About the author:

Andy McNeill, CEO of AMI, is a veteran of the meetings and event industries, with more than 25 years of experience in the profession. He has assisted firms in a variety of industries including pharmaceutical, biotech, healthcare, consumer, sports marketing and investment banking. He firmly believes in the strategic meeting marketing model and provides consulting services to Fortune 100 clients on the practice. After graduation from Florida State with a degree in marketing, Andy began his career in the event marketing group at Florida State Athletics. Soon after, he launched his own event marketing company and after five years merged with a major sports marketing firm. Andy spent six years with NSG Corporation as the Senior Vice President leading the sales and marketing for the firm who produced events for over 200,000+ attendees annually across the globe. Andy and the NSG team worked with the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta to produce portions of the Opening Ceremonies. Following NSG, Andy secured the role as COO at Fanizzi Associates, one of the nation’s largest event pharmaceutical firms. There he managed the overall operations of the company who executed over 400 events annually for physicians and internal pharmaceutical clients. Revenues exceeded $40 million a year. In 2002, Andy left Fanizzi Associates, and launched AMI with the vision of owning and operating a premiere event marketing and meeting management firm. Since 2002, AMI has grown into a multi-million dollar organization producing hundreds of events annually. The firm has managed programs in more than 20 industries for clients such as Novartis, Mars, Cleveland Clinic, J & J, Baxter, Pfizer and Office Depot. Andy’s vision of keeping AMI on the forefront of meetings technology, theory and practice has made it an industry leader. He is a member of MPI, Site, and the American Marketing Association. He volunteers as a chair of the Human Rights Campaign. Andy's day-to-day responsibilities include client acquisition, consulting and overall company strategy.

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