When you go to an event, you might have your purchasing goals and objectives in mind, or at least a thought of what you are looking for or who to talk to.
But too narrow a focus can keep you from coming away with something beneficial that you weren’t expecting.
During a one-on-one meeting at a hosted buyer event like Design Connections, buyers and suppliers are paired to make a match that is efficient and beneficial for both sides.
“Nothing beats the power of meeting face to face,” says Rachel Andrews, director of marketing and events for event management company Cvent. “We have seen time and again that facilitating one-on-one appointments at hosted buyer events leads to more meaningful business relationships and closing more deals.”
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Sometimes you can even approve the meetings the planner schedules ahead of time to create a customized schedule that works best for you and your business needs.
As a buyer attending a one-on-one hosted meeting, come with an open mind to learn about new things and prepare to make the most of your time with new vendors.
If you’re paired with someone who you normally wouldn’t visit, listen to what they have to say, encourages Victoria DeSilvio, an independent meeting planner. “Think of it as an opportunity to broaden your search for things you might not consider.”
Prepare for Your One-on-One Hosted Meeting
Remember that both buyers and vendors were qualified before coming to the hosted meeting. Time and effort was put into matching you two together.
Andrews and DeSilvio both agree that one-on-one meetings typically operate best at about 15-20 minutes long, including time to move to the next meeting.
This allows time for you to understand what a vendor is offering and deciding if it’s a fit.
Andrews offers three pieces of advice on how to prepare for these meetings:
1. Identify your priorities:
“When attendees come with strong objectives or an idea of what they want to accomplish, it often leads to a productive and efficient series of meetings.”
2. Do research on the suppliers you will be meeting:
“Participants should come into these meetings with some sort of background knowledge. For buyers, this can involve doing research into vendor offerings and pricing.”
3. Be comfortable:
In what you are wearing and having enough energy through food and drink. “Hosted buyer events can be taxing given the number and pace of one-on-one meetings. Being comfortable means energy is being better spent on engaging with others and building relationships.”
Despite your preparation and planning for the meetings, some vendors won’t be the right fit. However, you might still be able to make it work for someone else.
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“If there isn’t much progress being made during a conversation, I would encourage buyers to look beyond their business line to consider if a vendor may be a good fit for someone else in the enterprise,” Andrews suggests.
And if there’s still time left over, DeSilvio suggests making small talk, as you might find out something unexpected that way that could lead to a business deal.
Create a Connection
Remember, the conversation doesn’t have to stop at the show—even if you don't buy. Andrews recommends next steps based on how the meeting went.
Won’t lead to business? Don’t neglect the power of growing your network. Reach out via LinkedIn with a short explanation or reminder of who you are. “Make it about the relationship,” she says.
Want to continue the conversation? A follow-up email is necessary and expected. “Given the intimacy of these one-on-one meetings I would also think about … making a follow up phone call,” she encourages.
Keep informed and inquire now about interiors+sources’ wholly hosted buyer event, Design Connections.
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