by David Nour

I spend a lot of time at industry events. In addition to speaking over fifty times a year, I often attend events to spend time with my clients or to recharge my batteries and seek out new ideas. But here’s one thing that sets me apart from many others: I always have a specific set of objectives for each event.

Surprisingly, many organizers, producers, and suppliers to the events industry lose sight of the reasons that attendees, exhibitors or sponsors participate. By this I mean that many events do not work hard enough to help their stakeholders fulfill their desired strategic business goals.

Here are the three dominant reasons I perceive that organizations participate. As you consider this list, ask yourself what more you could do to facilitate the fulfilment of these objectives:

Create new relationships within a specific category: Too often, employees come back from an event with a near-random collection of business cards. That’s the result of not being sufficiently focused – or proactive enough – before and during the event.

I advocate creating a specific plan to grow contacts in a specific direction and tell my clients to reach out to others in advance. They should bring ideas and content designed to be of special interest to those folks. Even more importantly, they should do research and come prepared with well-formulated questions they can ask to draw out the issues that matter most to them.

Question: what can you do to make advance research and outreach possible?

Strengthen specific existing relationships: I am obsessed with 2 a.m. relationships; these are people I can call at 2 a.m. and know their first question will be “How can I help?” With such relationships, you move far past the “nice to see you stage”. You are intimately involved in their goals, aspirations, challenges, and opportunities.

Long before anyone attends an event, they should have invested a great deal of effort in being prepared to help their most valuable relationships, either by spending focused time with them there, or by representing their interests if they can’t attend.

Question: How can you create an environment more conducive to the nurturing of these special relationships?

Expand influence: To me, influence means one thing: being able to offer help and have the other person or institution gladly accept it.

It’s not enough to be professional or have quality products or maintain a solid reputation. You must foster sufficient influence and credibility that the people you wish to help make listening and learning from you a priority.

In our often chaotic and too-busy world, influence enables you to cut through the clutter and be heard. But influence has two prerequisites.

First, you must have something of significant value to share.

Second, you must be able to tell the difference between what is of value to one person versus another. Hint: they are seldom the same.

Question: how do you expand your sphere of influence for an event and simultaneously help your stakeholders do the same?

David Nour is CEO of The Nour Group. Opinions are his own. He can be reached at

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