Q&A: Exhibitor and Attendee Insights for Doing Business at a Health Care Planning, Design, and Construction Conference
December 5, 2016
With the new year fast-approaching, you may be looking forward to a fresh start to improve various aspects of your life – including your business strategy. As a first step to boost your strategic efforts, consider building your professional network. Whether you’re in sales or managing a health care renovation or construction project, learning from others can help fast track your decision making and prepare you for opportunities and challenges on a job. Just one phone call or e-mail to your new contact could make all the difference.
Networking opportunities are abundant at health care planning, design, and construction conferences and trade shows. With the PDC Summit & Exhibition approaching in March, we’ve interviewed a few exhibitors and attendees who can shed light on ways to enhance your business strategy for 2017.
Here are their networking tips to consider before, during, and after a health care planning, design, and construction event.
Q: How do you best prepare for doing business at a health care conference and trade show?
- “For the tradeshow, we consider the audience and tailor the message. If it’s mostly health care facility engineers that will be in attendance, we have a more detailed message. If it’s the health care C-Suite, we include more case studies, best practices, and provide an overview. If there is a company that we want to meet with in advance, we research the company and prepare questions ahead of the conference.” – Shreya G. Prasad, Technical Marketing Consultant, Caterpillar Inc. – Electric Power Division
- “We have very rigorous, upfront planning and preparation among our entire team to ensure a world-class experience for our customers. This includes everything from booth location, identification of key products and solutions, layout, key messaging, promotions, displays, and rehearsal of speaking opportunities. I also ensure that I have the correct people representing my organization at the event – from subject matter experts to key sales and marketing staff.” – Justin R. Carron, Global Healthcare Segment Manager, Eaton
- “From the perspective of a consultant looking to work with owners, I think it is important to recognize the limits of what you can accomplish and with whom. Find existing clients and get time with them to find what they have found at the conference. Use social hours to reinforce existing client relationships, but also invite other potential clients to sit in and participate in the conversation.” – Arthur D. Kjos, AIA, NCARB, FASHE, Executive Director Facilities Planning, Design and Construction, University of
Arkansas for Medical Science
- “As a senior vice president of facilities across a system, the approach is predominantly at “arm’s length”—gathering thoughts and concepts to bring back to my team. The sessions attended are to discover how others are solving issues of space flexibility, efficiency in the workplace, and reducing costs (both capital and operating). Pre-work includes reviewing the sessions to see what is of interest and balancing that with known projects and initiatives within our health care system.” – Dana Swenson, PE, MBA, Senior Vice President and Chief Facilities Officer, UMass Memorial Health Care
Q: What is your first approach for meeting with professionals before or during a health care planning, design, and construction conference?
- “With ASHE, as we continue to gain our presence, a few members of our team have become ASHE members. This has proven to be a good way to stay engaged with the community, and provided a good talking point while attending the conference. I affix the ASHE member ribbon on my name badge, which fosters communication among people visiting our booth as well as when I attend sessions during the conference. Also, we look at the attendee list to pre-determine who we would like to meet with and schedule a time to meet during the show. It also helps us determine who we will bring from our team to attend the conference.” – Shreya G. Prasad, Technical Marketing Consultant, Caterpillar Inc. – Electric Power Division
- “In my experience, I’ve found it very difficult to set up formal meetings in advance at events due to hectic schedules. So I typically identify only a handful of key customers or industry influencers (two to three at the most) that I want to target and meet. By focusing on only a select few, this allows me to reach out beforehand to express interest, learn, and establish a foundation for a future relationship. Then I properly plan upfront to tailor and sharpen my value propositions to ensure that the interaction is meaningful for both sides.” – Justin R. Carron, Global Healthcare Segment Manager, Eaton
- “The very first thing I do is step outside of my comfort zone and introduce myself to everyone I can. Standing in lines during break times and lunches can be an awesome time to meet others that can help you. It is a numbers game – the more people you engage, the more information you gather.” – Arthur D. Kjos, AIA, NCARB, FASHE, Executive Director Facilities Planning, Design and Construction, University of Arkansas for Medical Science
- “My first encounter may be with someone I already know and who is easy to connect. If I do not know them, then I typically approach them following a presentation for clarification of concepts and to make a personal connection. On the technical exhibit floor, the approach is one of “browse and see what catches my eye” – unless there is a specific issue my team has been discussing. Then it is a time to focus on particular products and exhibitors.” – Dana Swenson, PE, MBA, Senior Vice President and Chief Facilities Officer, UMass Memorial Health Care
Q: What is your strategy for keeping in touch with those you meet at a health care conference or trade show?
- “At our booth, we utilize the lead retrieval system. We download this list to Excel and sort leads by territory and type of issue. Then, we engage our local reps to follow-up on leads generated from the show in their territory. We also network informally with attendees during the conference and exchange business cards. If a lead or a connection has been made that needs follow-up, it’s simple, as we now have his/her e-mail address and phone number. As a best practice, say that you will follow up on a lead or with a contact that you made at the conference, but actually follow up with the contact after returning back to the office. This establishes credibility.” – Shreya G. Prasad, Technical Marketing Consultant, Caterpillar Inc. – Electric Power Division
- “Hopefully I have established some action items or next steps. Now it is rapid response time. I think it is very important to follow up quickly in order to capitalize on and maintain that momentum. That initial follow-up is key because you’re able to keep building trust and familiarization. Then your goals should shift toward making meaningful and positive impressions over time. The key is to constantly provide depth and value in those future interactions and discussions.” – Justin R. Carron, Global Healthcare Segment Manager, Eaton
- “As an owner, I usually let exhibitors and consultants touch base with me. Usually I define the parameters when we meet – like in two months and e-mail. I like when folks do not over communicate – I will respond if I am truly interested.” – Arthur D. Kjos, AIA, NCARB, FASHE, Executive Director Facilities Planning, Design and Construction, University of
Arkansas for Medical Science
- “In most cases, I am acting as a conduit to connect a concept (or product) with members of my team who are dealing with the specific issue. This approach puts the information in the hands of the individuals closest to the work being performed.” – Dana Swenson, PE, MBA, Senior Vice President and Chief Facilities Officer, UMass Memorial Health Care
Early-bird attendee registration for the 2017 PDC Summit & Exhibition ends January 13, 2017. Those interested in exhibiting or sponsoring the 2017 PDC Summit can view opportunities here.