Imagine this…

Your company has just spent a big chunk of its marketing budget to send you and your teammates to a conference to find new business opportunities through networking.

By the end of the conference, you’ve managed to meet only a few dozen people, half of whom were in a hurry to get from one seminar to another.

The other half…turns out they’re not a good fit.

Ring a bell? Then this guide is definitely for you.

I’ll be sharing the methodology that we’ve used in hundreds of campaigns facilitated both for us and our clients at CIENCE. Its deliberate and calculated approach has helped us reliably generate thousands of leads at conferences that have then converted to actual customers. That means, instead of flying blindly, searching (and hoping) for opportunities to connect with “the right people,” we’re maximizing selling time at the conference and getting results.

So if you want to get the most make the most of your conference networking at Global Growth Marketing Conference 2019 (or any conference for that matter), keep reading.

Breaking Down the Problem: Reasons Behind Inefficient Conference Networking

Before we get into the methodology, let’s quickly take a look at the situation described above. There are three key problems:

  1. Your team hasn’t introduced themselves to as many people as they wanted
  2. Some of the attendees met don’t fit your company’s Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
  3. There wasn’t enough time to have valuable conversations

As a result, the conference results weren’t what you were expecting. And in many cases, people stop here and blame the results on the conference.

Sure, the conference can be the culprit…sometimes. However, I’d venture to say that perhaps it wasn’t the conference. Perhaps you’re simply not using the conference efficiently.

What we’ve seen time and time again is that it’s the lack of preparation that keeps businesses from securing the leads and customers they seek from these types of networking opportunities.

To get the most out of an opportunity like this one (where you’re a sponsor, tabled vendor or simply an attendee looking to connect), there are a few things that need to happen in advance.

  1. Potential customers among the conference attendees should be identified prior to the start of the event.
  2. At-event appointments with the identified potential customers should be set in advance.
  3. Sales intel about your potential customers should be gathered before your at-event appointments.

When these steps are not done in advance, you and your team are bound to waste precious time.

5 Steps to Boost the Efficiency of Your Conference Attendance

If you’re interested in seeing some of the tangible results we’ve seen from what we call the CIENCE Method for B2B Lead Generation, take a look at this case study.

The process for B2B lead generation can be broken down into five stages:

  1. Preparation
  2. Content Development
  3. Outreach
  4. Event
  5. Follow-Up

Step One — Preparation

This step is probably the most important of all. We begin preparation at least two months before the conference because the active outreach step should begin about 14 days before the first day of the event.

Note, however, that much depends on the scale. So if you’re heading to a conference of thousands of attendees, I suggest you start earlier.

Finally, we’ve run dozens if not hundreds of such pre-event campaigns for both ourselves and our clients. We have mastered every process and can do it semi-automatically. However, if it is your first campaign, you should also save more time for its implementation and fixing inevitable mistakes.

The essentials of the preparation step:

A better event marketing solution

1. Create your ICP.

Be sure to include title(s) + company data (number of employees, annual revenues, industry, geography, specific requirements). You can also make a Buyer Persona.

2. Choose your channels.

Will you use email, phone calls, social networks’ messengers, offline? I suggest going multichannel as it’s more efficient. Pick several or all of them.

3. Identify your content strategy.

What are you going to tell your prospects in your outreach, at the conference and later on? What content mediums (blog, email, landing page, etc.) and types (articles, ads, videos, etc.) will you be using?I suggest picking one theme for your conference and stick to it in all the content you produce (e.g., NewsCred’s “Coffee before Content” for Content Marketing World).

4. Select your team.

Assign people who will be in charge of the process: conference attendees (sales, founders), Sales Development Representative (SDR), lead researcher, and copywriter

5. Devise an action plan.

Create weekly and daily plans for every person on your team. Who will do what and when? Remember that SDR’s daily routine provided in great detail is one of the keys to success in outreach.

Plan your activities prior, during and after the event.

6. Set goals and KPIs.

“Generate 100 appointments and three sales” is an example of inefficient KPI.

Try: “Study all the attendees, find all those who match ICP, generate their contact data, create appealing content for them, reach out to them via channels 1 to n, set appointments (including after event), conduct appointments, follow-up everyone.”

7. Select your software.

Lead generation automation tools will save much work for your team and enable them to focus on more critical tasks.

Step 2 — Content Development

At this stage, you’re creating the content and information materials you’ll need for the event.

1. Develop a dedicated place to land.

It could be a blog post(s), a page on your website or a landing page to your conference attendance. Make sure you have a CTA there.

Example: Let’s discuss your conference success. Book an appointment now!

2. Spread the word via social networks.

Using LinkedIn as one more channel for your outreach can be of great help. Use hashtags.

Example: Learn about #OutboundForInbound at #INBOUND’19 from the top #B2Bleadgen company.

3. Leave the drops in the mailboxes.

Yep. Many firms will bombard your prospects’ bags and hotel rooms with their hangover kits during the event. However, you can always get ahead of everyone, stand out and be remembered.

4. Prepare handouts and demos.

There’s one important thing you should remember at this stage. Because you set appointments beforehand, you’ll be having conversations that correspond to the discovery stage of a sales funnel. Make sure that your materials meet the requirement of this stage. Tip: Train your SDRs well on these materials and any FAQs.

5. Create and test email templates and scripts.

We consider this step the most crucial part of the content development stage. We’ve seen multiple campaigns in which rewriting an initial template from our customers resulted in a dramatic increase in open and response rates as well as the number of appointments set at an event.

We created a short case study dedicated to one such email send out. We had two simultaneous campaigns for one client. We set appointments for them for two similar conferences that took place in the same week. Our client provided us the templates for each of the events. However, we rewrote one of them, and it outperformed the other by 18x!

You’ll need:

  • A/B templates for each wave
  • Scripts if you’re doing phone calls (practice with SDRs in advance)
  • Follow-up templates (written before the event)
  • Canned responses

Tips on writing the templates for conference campaigns:

  • Personalize. Always.
  • Use the conference title in the subject line.
    • It may sound counterintuitive, but a simple subject line that we used for our latest send-out “{Company name} at INBOUND’19” had a whopping 55.13% open rate.
  • If any of your C-suites are going leverage it. Say you’re reaching out to set an appointment for your Chief {Something} Officer.
  • Offer a coffee meeting. An average American drinks 3.1 cups of this beverage per day. It’s irresistible.
  • Instead of inviting appointments to your booth, offer to come to where they are. Two reasons:
    • Leads will be more relaxed in their territory.
    • Going somewhere = losing energy and time.
  • Your letter should answer “Why me” “Why now” “Why should I care.” Leverage the conference to answer any or all of these questions.
  • Replace “me” message (our solution is the best) with “you” message (you have this problem we can share insights into solving it)
  • Cherish prospects’ time; be short in your writing.
  • Talk about prospects’ rivals, industry leaders, and opinion leaders. A list of 5-7 names that make their heart beat faster is a great way to get their attention and interest.
  • Make sure your email looks like an email from a real person, not just another marketing mass send-out with bold text, fancy background, and pictures. Use a smile or two to look natural ;).

Step 3 — Outreach

Start 2-3 weeks before the event (depending on your quantity of leads). This step should consist of lead research and multichannel outreach.

1. Conduct lead research

Ideally, the scheme is as follows:

You generate contact data of your prospects on day one. Then, you get them checked by your quality assurance team. Finally, you send the emails to the prospects on day 2-3.

The reality is different, however, since there are weekends, and companies face unexpected problems. Nevertheless, I strongly advise you against using a contact list that is older than one month. You might have a high bounce rate and be punished by anti-spam filters.

It’s highly unlikely to find a list of contacts from a specific conference’s attendees for sale. So you need a person who knows how to generate those email addresses, telephone numbers and other data from scratch and as quickly as possible (50 leads per day is enough).

Alternatively, you can always hire a B2B lead generation company. It’ll be much cheaper compared to a full-time employee.

You can also ask the conference for its list (though they are not always keen to provide).

2. Perform multichannel outreach

Your SDR will have only two weeks (10 days) to start business conversations with your potential clients attending the upcoming conference. One rep can connect with up to 50 leads per day. Make sure you can make the most of it.


Prepare for your calls thoroughly. You’ll need:

  • Sales intel on each prospect to make your conversation individual
  • The list of slots available for appointments


If you reach a gatekeeper, let them know you want to talk about the appointment between your boss and theirs at the upcoming conference.

Once you get through to your prospect:

  • Don’t talk like you’re a salesperson. Your goal is to help them get the most of their networking at the event.
  • And they can’t talk right now (e.g., in a car), request to talk later.
  • And they have similar product/service, ask as many questions as possible (about the issues above all)

If the prospect isn’t attending the conference:

  • Set up the meeting after or before the event.


If you want to succeed in the outreach, you must follow up:

  • Warm email summing up the conversation + some valuable gated piece of content that your team prepared
  • Appointment offer – three time-slots.

Send the appointment reminder one day before and on the morning of the meeting day.

Step 4 — Event

During the event, expect frequent changes in your schedule. Your SDR can support you with managing these changes. Most prospects will be opening adjust their appointment time; be sure your request kind.

Before the end of your appointment, be sure you’ve clearly identified next steps for when the conference is over (e.g., next appointment, phone/video call, sending materials). Write these down.

Stage 5 — Follow-up

In 2012, 80% of attendees didn’t follow-up after trade-shows (SalesForce). Put yourself into your prospect’s shoes. You’ve had several crazy days in a new city. You’ve been learning new things, meeting new people, getting new insights. You’ve visited parties, tasted some new food and probably drunk.

Do you remember that cool guy talking about B2B lead generation and business growth? Maybe. Where’s his business card? Lost… Let’s check-up on the phone. What was his name again? This very moment you receive a working call and forget about the guy and his amazing growth opportunity.

Just follow-up now. These first days after the conference when the memory is still fresh. The order of following up:

  1. Decision-makers who talked with your sales at the event (with a summary of the conversation).
  2. People who never showed up.
  3. All the rest on your lead list.

Be nice, polite. Offer to set appointments now that’s the event is over.


Any company can leverage the conference attendance by its workers if they apply these methods. All you need to do is identify the event participants that match your ICP, reach out to them and offer to meet in person at the event.

This way, you will be able to learn about the prospect before the event and have a more meaningful and effective conversation with them.

Read more: How to Generate More Leads? Try These 7 Top Ideas