As a freelance consultant I have often considered attending an SAP event, such as SAPPHIRE or one of the solution-specific trade shows – the Orlando CRM show, for example. The price tag has always been a big hurdle, as well as the travel cost and the time away from project activities. As an independent consultant, time not onsite usually means time not earning an income.
After three days of manning a sponsored booth at the SAP Insider Financials / GRC / HR / BI 2011 show in Amsterdam, I returned to London with a fresh perspective. The experience was both motivational and revitalizing. My earlier concern with the return on investment has been displaced with my understanding of the benefits that investment offers. I was fortunate to chat with many attendees over the three day period and can now share both my and their views on why these events are beneficial.
With the status quo of online social networking, we hardly make the effort to meet people in the traditional way these days. A simple conversation over lunch can lead to an exchange of business cards. People of all backgrounds in your network can request or offer something of great value to you in the future, be it the following week or five years down the line when both of you have more influential roles in your workplace.
A good product can sell itself. A good consultant can get continuous work from word-of-mouth references. The problem arises when product or brand awareness is lacking amongst your target market. Events and conferences provide a good platform to raise awareness, hand out freebies and promotional material, or even host a talk that introduces your product to a new audience.
I met an attendee who was new to the SAP space and he was using the event in Amsterdam as a means to learn what the SAP ecosystem offers. Learning about new products, learning from customer experiences and learning what different people have to offer is always beneficial to help you plan your solution effectively.
Seeing New Sites
There something good about stepping away from the office or removing yourself from the daily working space for a bit of time. It’s usually during these off-periods that’s developers, system analysts or project managers have that Eureka moment and think of the solution to a problem they have spent hours fussing about. That, and you get to see a new city sometimes.
These are only a few examples of how you can benefit from a variety of social interaction opportunities, such as SAP trade shows. The larger the event, the more exposure you can obtain and the more awareness people have of your brand. It’s just one channel to expand your market, but I now realize exactly how effective it can be for me as an individual and for the organization I represent.
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