Some more strategies to get the most of out of construction conferences
June 2, 2022
8 min read
Founder at Buildr
Construction conferences tend to be fun and are a great way to stretch your legs (figuratively and literally), especially after being cooped up for two years staring at little boxes of each other. In an industry as interpersonal as construction, relationships birthed and/or continued face-to-face are vital to your business's long-term success. We can vouch for this tenet personally; many of Buildr's longtime partnerships started with a simple handshake at a construction conference.
Last time, we touched on business cards, attire, and general behavior pointers in group settings. This week, we're covering a few more networking tips including happy hours and team members vs. solo attendance. Let's get into it!
It’s bad form to talk shop once the construction conference is over, but heaven help us if we don’t all do it anyway (analogously, you can have bad form and rock during bicep curls and still grow muscle—you heard it here first).
Put some feelers out while you're meeting and greeting as to who is going to be where once the conference lets out. If it's a multi-day conference like Procore Groundbreak, there will always be post-session get-togethers like happy hours, usually right in walking distance of the venue (New Orleans will be exceedingly appropriate for this in the fall). Keeping a networking goal post-session frees up your efforts to gain value in attending and soaking up the actual conference. You don't need to be sidetracked by trying to hunt down key stakeholders or the hands you think you have to shake the most.
Show up at the bar or restaurant in question, or seal a deal to meet up later at a given venue to take the conversation forward in more serene surroundings. If you're not sure which will be the most "valuable" happy hour for your business, you can take one of two approaches:
Follow along with a new conference friend you made that has a post-session event in mind. Odds are there will be some value in whichever event you attend, and worst case you spend some quality time with an industry friend.
Attend the happy hour that has the most marketing behind it. This will generally have the largest turnout because folks who aren't sure which one to go to will inevitably end up at the one they heard the most about.
An important thing to keep in mind about construction conference happy hours is that they'll always be within walking distance from the venue so as to heighten the odds of attendance. This implicitly means that more than one happy hours will be really close to each other (or even sometimes at the same venue). Feel free to hop around if you're not feeling one; there's no need to waste your time when there's another happy hour likely next door.
Construction conferences hold a wealth of information, and attending them for networking opportunities alone robs them of half of their value. Worse still, skipping over speeches, lectures and learning opportunities could well rob you of organic ways of meeting and greeting your next ideal partnership.
Keep your eyes and ears open on the skills and exercises you know will most benefit your business. Naturally, if you have your eyes on the prize and want to network with a specific group of people, find out which speeches and activities they’re partaking in (or make an educated guess).
Are you heading out yourself to the construction conference, or is it a team effort? If the latter, are you going to maraud around in a big clump and potentially scare off new deals, or will you smartly split your resources and send smaller squads to seal deals with all and sundry?
Don’t think you are at a disadvantage if you are going to the conference solo in that regard either. What you lose in numbers, you make up for in nimbleness—and you can pivot your plans on a dime to accommodate meeting that must-see new business partner without disrupting the plans of your peers. This ties into the aforementioned happy hour section: divide and conquer or have a wingman/wingwoman.
We don’t want to sound like your mother, but are you drinking enough water? Remembering to wash your face? Getting a good breakfast before you head out the door?
Don’t give us that look—we both know how much construction conferences can devolve into tests of endurance. Keeping your head in the game means not just bringing out your smoothest smile and firmest handshake.
You have to look after yourself before you can look after your next big business venture. Eat well, stay in shape and balance your caffeine intake. Each day of a conference is a bit like a marathon.
Believe us when we say that a bright spark of inspiration from a well-timed coffee, or the clarity of mind that comes from staying hydrated, can be the feather that doesn't break the camel's back when you need it most.
Would you really rather negotiate new business half-asleep, words drawling from the corner of your mouth, head pounding all the while?
When you feel good, it shows – and it’s infectious. You’re going to draw a lot more people to you by being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and that’s going to lead to good things for your business going forward.
Fail to plan and you plan to fail, as the saying goes – and we would know. Keep our tips in mind before your next construction conference, and you stand to have a far more productive and engaging time.
Seriously, you should sign up to be a construction insider. Everyone will be so jealous of you.