We attended a major industry conference with a huge corporate sponsorship. As far as we could tell, however, that effort was nearly a complete waste of cash.
Obviously we can’t tell you the event or the company that put up their money to get their name on the program, but we can give you the highlights:
- The “title sponsor” got to put up banners and get top billing in the program
- The “title sponsor” paid for a reception with an open bar for over two hundred attendees
- The “title sponsor” got five free tickets for its own staff to come to the event
This must have cost a fortune, and all of the attendees were milling around having a grand time. The event looked something like this:
The sponsor did make use of those five free tickets. They brought a handful of staff people, each of which were wearing company shirts with their official corporate logo. But for the entire, ninety minute reception, these five people only did one thing: stand at the same table and talk only to each other.
This is a business process error of the highest magnitude. The reason that the sponsor received these tickets was so they would have direct access to the attendees. Failure to actually go out and meet people, exchange business cards, or have further conversation makes the expense nearly a complete waste. Why would this company have its employees stand around chatting when hundreds of prospects were in the very same room?
The likely answer is that the sponsor did not define a workflow. It’s easy to do this. Consider the following idea:
- Before the conference identify anyone who might be in attendance that you want to meet. Distribute these names among your employees.
- Before the cocktail party survey the room and decide where each employee will network.
- During the event, have a system for collecting business cards and taking notes on conversations.
- Immediately afterwards, refine and improve on any notes you have while they are fresh in your mind.
- After the conference, follow up on people that each employee met to search for opportunities.
This is just one example of workflow and it only took five minutes to invent. It might take another ten minutes to implement. And although this proposed business process is far from perfect, it’s much better than just standing around talking to each other!
So much lost opportunity in business is unintentional. If you don’t have a business process, your business and your employees are likely to pursue the path of least resistance. Take a few minutes to plan. You’ll be amazed how it influences your results.