I thought I was going to be filling in for my most senior client, the managing director, but I should have known she’s made of stronger stuff. However, within your events party, you can always expect up to 10% of guests to drop out. So, when you’re thrown into a situation at the last minute that you’re not prepared for, here’s how to make the most of it and shine:
1. Ice, ice baby
Have an icebreaker under your belt and bring it out to everyone you meet.
As I’d only met my client’s leadership team a handful of times (and they won’t remember me even though I email them good news most days i.e. coverage), I used:
“Looks like my boss has finally let me out of the office!”
Corny I know. But I can laugh about it and so can they. It opens up about what I actually do and puts the attention on me for as long as I want it – until I turn the tables back on them.
2. Be honest
I was fortunate enough to be meeting my CEO at the event. I found her amongst the crowds and asked her to introduce me to some key influencers. I could have saved face and attempted to network on my own, but this method was quicker and she really appreciated my honesty and the challenges I was up against.
If this isn’t convincing enough – she set me up to shake celebrity chef Raymond Blanc’s hand. Enough said.
3. Check in
If you’ve been involved in the logistics of the event at any stage, check with your client and the organisers that everything is on track. It’ll show you’re in control and see tasks from beginning to end. It takes just one question and once you’ve been given the green light you can operate for the rest of the day on cruise control.
It goes without saying to make an effort with everyone – especially those on your table. Think of the five golden rules of journalism: who, what, why, when and how? Find out the answers from those closest to you and take the conversation from there.
4. Mission statement
As I was ‘invading’ a sustainability event for food and drink operators, I was understandably the odd one out. If you think your PR aura is sticking out like a sore thumb too, be prepared to summarise what you and your company does in one to two sentences. It succinctly helps the guests understand your role. Who knows – it might lead to a new business opportunity?
5. Find your niche
I was introduced to most people I met as my company’s social media guru. This gave me the flexibility to get my phone out without feeling rude and also handed me a free pass to doodle on my phone when conversations had come to a natural end.
6. Be aware
You can lose all sense of time at events. Don’t be caught out and over do it on the champagne at 11.30am! You do need to have some wits about you in front of your peers and clients.
What are your top tips on surviving
industry events win your clients?