5 Learnings from the MWC on how to Efficiently Visit a Congress

Going to a big congress is not that different as visiting a big shopping mall. Without proper preparation, it can easily happen that you walk through it and end up with a bag full of stuff that is cool but is not what you were actually looking for.

In this post, I am going to present you my five learnings from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. As you might imagine, you will not read about the big announcements that happened there because I decided to fully dedicate my time to the companies and people that were important for my mission.

My mission: Our Call for Innovation

The Startup team I am working for at Swisscom launched their second Call for Innovation in 2017. We were looking for startups and innovators who have successfully developed and tested business cases that leverage telecommunication data. The winners of this call have the chance to start a joint proof of concept project. We launched this program together with Proximus and Fastweb.

The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is the place to be for any topics related to the telecommunication industry. However, due to its yearly success, it has been growing to over 2,000 exhibitors and more than 101,000 visitors. It is evident that this size of event needs thorough preparation.

Call for Innovation and Badge of Cyril Mugglin

Always with me: Plenty of flyers and my badge for the congress.


5 Practical Questions for Preparing an Efficient Congress Visit

Why are you exactly going?
Before diving too deeply into exhibition maps you need to think about the main reason why you attend this conference. In my case, the goal was to spread the word about the Call for Innovation in a most efficient way to the right people. This goal will become your mission. We will need this later.

What companies and which people are important to reach your goal?
Use the conference brochure and if available databases and look for the companies and people that are relevant to you at the conference. By doing this you will find out that there are directly and more indirectly relevant people on your list. The second step is to rank the relevant companies and multipliers according to their relevance.

Where are these people located at the conference?
Now take the exhibition map out of your pocket and look for the relevant booths with the people you want to see. Depending on the size of the conference you plan to visit, it makes sense to draw your way on the conference map. Do not underestimate the energy and time you need to walk. I walked over 11 km a day at the Mobile World Congress that has over 400,000 km2 of exhibition space.

How to structure and what to say during the actual talk?
Depending on how used you are to having business talks, you need to have your pitch prepared. However, do not forget to customize it appropriately. The best way to do this is to approach the booth, say hi, and ask what they do. After three minutes you will have a relatively clear impression on if this is actually an interesting company and, if so, how to customize your pitch to the company. An easy way to start your pitch is telling your mission. On a general note, you will meet nice and interesting people at every conference so watch your clock. No one will hate you for saying “Thank you, let’s exchange our business cards and I will check it out later.”

How to follow up and keep the contacts warm?
The stressful and inspiring days are over and you are back in the office. Now it is the time to update your leads list. The most efficient way to structure your leads list is to use columns for first name, last name, title, email, company, and something that reminds you of the contact. With this information, you have everything to write personalized follow-up emails efficiently.

Apart from this thorough preparation, do not forget to plan spare time in your schedule where you can enjoy the beautiful things by strolling around or just relax.

So, are you ready for the next conference?

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