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Getting the most out of Collision 2023, Canada's biggest tech conference

Updated: Jun 8

So, you’re getting ready to attend Collision 2023. It’s your first time at the conference. You've gone to tech conferences before. This one will be just the same as all of ‘em. Well… nope.

Our usual strategy of “I’ll just talk to everyone and see what we can do” has worked before at countless conferences. After all, In a few days, you can talk to everyone. Most conferences have a few hundred, maybe 1,000 people, tops. At Collision conference in Toronto last year, that strategy was a big FAIL.

Getting the most out of Collision 2023, Canada's biggest tech conference

Why’s that? Collision is not just any tech conference — it’s basically Vegas at New Year’s Eve. You’ve got four days and that’s just not enough time to meet-and-greet 30,000+ people. It’s way too crazy. There’s thousands of eager startups and established companies looking to get their name out there. So what do you do?

We put on our thinking caps, figured out some new strategies and looked for wisdom from fellow attendees. If you’re attending Collision 2023, here’s your handbook of what to do (and what not to do.)

Preparing for Collision 2023

Our top strategy for Collision conference this year: lots of pre-planning (much more than we admittedly did last year!)

Spend time going through the Collision app.

If you think you’re just going to ‘run’ into people you want to talk to, you’re in for a rude awakening. Going through the app will help you explore the tech companies by segment — like fintech, autotech, and the like — and help you narrow down your focus.

Set up meetings before Collision starts.

After finding your targets, reach out to them via the app to schedule time to chat. We recommend nailing down a time and place before the conference begins so your request doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. With how busy and chaotic the conference floor is, it’s best to set up a time and place, like the adjacent Hotel X Toronto’s fancy lobby, to chat.

Set conference objectives.

Whether you want to forge new partnerships, expand your sales pipeline, or learn about emerging technologies, having clear goals will help you only reach out to people that make sense for your business.

What to do during Collision 2023

Be ready with your business’ elevator pitch.

Be able to succinctly explain what your company does and how they do it. Sometimes, you do end up meeting people on the fly. Quickly explaining a concise and compelling pitch that highlights your company's value proposition can be enough to pique interest. I always try to ask about them and their company first so I can adjust my pitch accordingly based on whatever industry segment they are in.

Chat with people in line for talks and events.

Check out some of the talks and see who you can chat with in line. If you’re both attending the same event, you likely have similar business interests and make a new connection. Last year I spoke to a dozen people in line throughout the conference and no one ever mentioned they were too busy to talk to me.

Take notes of everything.

Whether it's during a meeting or you hear a speaker and want to shoot them an email post-conference, immediately taking notes will help remind you of what the both of you talked about. This can help give context to what stage their business is at and help you when approaching them post-conference.

Leverage your social media.

Use social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to share your conference experience. Post about attending, engage in conversations using event hashtags and follow relevant industry influencers to expand your reach and help you connect with others you didn’t find on the Collision app. Last year I made sure to share photos, quotes, and anecdotes I learned to my team so they can cross-promote on social media.

What not to do during Collision 2023

Don’t get discouraged.

Not everything is an instant sale. Collision 2023 can help you grow and foster relationships now and in the future. You made the connection, now you just have to stay on top of it. A connection I made didn’t come to fruition until months later!

Don’t party (too) hard.

I’m not exactly the stay-out-all night networking god I once was. (Actually, that was never a thing for me.) Anyway, Collision conference is chock-a-block with networking opportunities, parties and after-parties. At other conferences, I use these opportunities to do more wheeling and dealing. At Collision’s official parties… nope. The loud music. The nightclub-style vibe… This ain’t reeeally ideal networking territory.

Absolutely, have fun. Meet people. Go to these events. And hey, I could be wrong. Maybe giant deals got done last year and I just wasn’t part of those conversations.

That said, I do feel like shouting at each other over the techno-vibe is not exactly ideal for listening, building rapport and finding win-win opportunities. Save it for the conference floor (or perhaps, a quieter meeting place offsite. Arrange your own low-key “after party” in a room where you can actually hear yourself think).

Dress for comfort.

The golden rule might be to dress for success but… It’s a long, busy conference with 30k people. It falls during a time where it’s hot and humid in Toronto. I realized after the first day that wearing a tight suit with dress shoes wasn’t the right call and that comfort is key.

I’m not saying show up in crocs and a random T-shirt. But when you get to day 3 of standing on your shiny shoes that are pinching your toes and digging into your heels, people will see the pain in your face. Bring at least a few pairs of shoes and some business casual attire. Or alternately, wear some branded attire that at least shows off your company logo, maybe with a tagline. Nothing stops any attendee from exhibiting their business as they wander the floor.

Don’t book accommodation last minute.

I almost had this problem this year after the AirBnb I booked well in advance canceled and hotel prices skyrocketed. Luckily I found something (reasonably priced) in time, but a friend a few years back didn’t have that same luck. They didn’t commit to going until the last minute and, by that point, everything was booked. He had to rent a room from a friend of a friend of a friend.

Don’t waste people’s time.

Sometimes what your business offers doesn’t match with what someone is looking for and vice versa. A fast and hard no is better than things dragging on. If I am chatting with someone and notice we aren’t looking for the same things, it’s okay to be polite, recognize the fit isn’t there, and move on.

What to do after Collision 2023

Make sure you manually export your Collision contacts to LinkedIn — fast

Unfortunately there’s no way to automatically export who you connect with on the Collision app. To make sure you don’t lose the names and contact details of people you didn’t get a chance to connect with at the conference, make sure you add those leads on LinkedIn.

Follow up with people you met at the conference.

Building relationships shouldn't end when the conference concludes. Using the notes you made at the conference, schedule a follow-up by dropping some anecdotes about your conference chat. If they aren’t ready to take the plunge into what you’re offering, make calendar reminders every few months to reach out.

Regroup and prepare for the next tech conference.

After the conference, take the time to reflect on your experience. Identify key takeaways, new strategies, and actionable insights that you can implement in your own business. Share your learnings with your team and discuss how you can apply them to drive growth and innovation. Discuss about what messaging worked (or didn’t work) and see how you can apply it immediately to your future business communications.

A conference like Collision is a chance to engage, make meaningful connections, and help grow your tech company’s exposure. With proper planning, preparation, and a positive mindset, you can make the most out of Collision 2023.

Are you attending Collision 2023? Connect with Mind Meld PR’s Founder Jonathon Narvey who will be on the scene at Collision 2023. If you want to talk about how your tech company can get media coverage, book a Zoom call today.

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