As credit managers, sales and networking aren't always necessarily front of mind and representing yourself and your organisation at an event can often seem daunting. When you find yourself at the front line however, the below practical tips will help you make the most of the opportunity and provide some guidance to better promote yourself and your organisation.

Be prepared

The key to successfully networking and connecting with potential suppliers and clients is being prepared, professional and proactive. Being a good networker takes practice and can be challenging at first, however preparation is key and will go a long way to helping you deal with any nerves and leave a positive first impression. Make sure: z your business cards are current; 
- your LinkedIn profile is up to date; 
- you have a presentable image representing your personal and business brand; and 
- you have an objective
– know why you are attending the event and what you want to achieve by being there. If you have a sales role or similar, which is all about connecting with people, it's also important you take the time to understand your target audience.

Put yourself out there Industry events often have a blend of suppliers and vendors and are a great opportunity to research the market and its supporting services. To ensure you make the most of these events, try to visit as many trade booths as possible. Suppliers are there because they're interested in your business and you'll get a first-hand feel for their organisation.

As mentioned earlier, it helps to know what your objectives are before you enter a trade show, so you can be on the front foot with booth representatives and ensure you're getting the information you need. They will want to know as much about your business and potential opportunities as possible so they can best accommodate your queries. It's a good idea to exchange contact information even if you don't currently require their services. There could be a key piece of information they give you, or would have access to, that you may need later on when you get back to the office; build your network as much as possible with subject matter experts.

Get your game on!

The trade booths at industry events are a hugely valuable part of the conference experience for delegates and exhibitors. It is not often all the main suppliers in the industry are in the one room so take this opportunity to learn as much as possible about the companies represented and their insights into the general trends of the industry. While you may not conduct any business at the conference understanding the key suppliers in the industry will help you when and if you do face a challenge they can help with.

Cynthia Thomas is National Sales Manager for Austral Mercantile. Email: cynthia.

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