Young Upstarts

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How To Make The Best of Echelon 2010 And Other Such Conferences


It’s Echelon 2010 next week! With more than 40 exhibiting startups and a launchpad session that will see others unveil their products to the public for the first time, the event touted as Asia’s leading web technology event is certainly shaping up to be an exciting one.

How can you make the best of attending a conference like Echelon 2010? Here’s some advice:

1. Research!

Many conferences these days offer split sessions or concurrent tracks, where delegates have to pick to attend one session or the other. Check out the agenda early, so you can decide ahead which track most interests you.

I like to research on the speakers and the companies that will be present at the event, which helps me to prioritize my time when I’m there.

2. Be punctual.

Before any event starts, there’s usually a time frame for registrations. The problem is that people tend to come late, near the tail end of that registration window. Remember that there can be hundreds of of people who will be attending such an event, which means a bottleneck may form i.e. the event may end up starting late.

You don’t want to spend precious time stuck in a queue either, when you really should already be inside talking to important people or grabbing the best seats!

3. Come prepared.

This may sound very boy scout, but I pack candy, breath mints and a bottle for water to such events. It’s usually a pain – and a waste of time – trying to find water at these events, and I’ve encountered enough people with halitosis breathing into my face that I will spare the people I speak to the horror.

And if you blog like I do, you’re probably lugging around quite a few devices to such events – laptop, digital camera, mini-camcorder etc. This means you’re likely to need extra battery packs, power adaptors, USB cables to synchronize data between devices, memory cards and the like.

This goes for business cards as well – remember to bring enough of them! It’s still the best networking tool around.

4. Be social.

One of the key reasons to be at such events is to network! Talk to as many people as you possibly can – exhibitors, organizers, bloggers, and the odd journalist or two. Some of the best and juiciest conversations happen in the hallways, and you may glean interesting insights into your sphere of interest from the different people you met.

If you’re not sure how, fellow technologist Ong Jiin Joo put up an excellent post on how you can network at Echelon 2010.

5. Have a end-day debrief.

A full-day conference can be very exhausting, and your bed is probably the only thing on your mind when you get home. But what I like to do is to actually sit down and reflect on the proceedings of the day – I try to remember the interesting people I meet, write down some of the points in the interesting conversations I participated in, and identify the companies I want to follow up with.

I also go through the business cards I’ve collected throughout the day, and proceed to look for them and connect on LinkedIn while they still (hopefully) remember me. It’s a great way to start cultivating these relationships, because as we all know, “guanxi” matters.

If you’re an exhibiting startup at Echelon 2010, this advice is even more crucial for you.

See you at Echelon 2010!

Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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