How to prepare for an international event
It goes without saying that international events and conferences are extremely beneficial, especially for startups. Not only are they a great opportunity to find potential investors and partners for your project, but there is also a chance to expand your network of connections for future collaboration, or just simply keep up with all the innovations in your industry.

But making the most out of international events can be quite tricky. It takes great communication skills to persuade a complete stranger that your project is worth investing in/partnering with. Sometimes you can make mistakes that completely ruin your chance at success even before you arrive at the location!

In this article I will give you a checklist of 10 things to look at before you go to an international event to make sure you are fully armed for the conference itself:
1. Work with the conference app
The first thing you need to do is check whether the conference has a dedicated app (like WebSummit for example), and if so, download it and make sure to fill out your profile to the fullest, as it's most likely going to be the app other participants will use to find and communicate with you. I would also like to mention specifically that the profile photo can be used as one of the elements of your marketing: take a picture in a branded T-shirt or place a distinctive feature in the photo, for example VR glasses if your project is related to VR-technology. This way your chance to be recognized at the first meeting will increase dramatically.

2. Of course, fill out your LinkedIn profile
If the conference doesn’t have a separate app, your initial contact with other participants is sure to happen on LinkedIn. But even if there is an app, and people use it during the conference, it is LinkedIn where your communication will probably continue. That’s why you should put some effort into filling your profile with clear and correct information, and showing at least some degree of activity.

For example, you can make a few posts about what you're going to do/who you're looking for at the conference a couple of weeks/days before it starts. Use it as a platform to talk about your interests, expectations, product or vision.

3. Create (or update) your English website
Try to look at it from the perspective of the people that you will meet at the event. After all, they are your main target audience at that moment. Maybe you'll put up some banners there or something that can help your potential partners decide to collaborate with you faster. If you’re trying to be more international or avoid being identified as a person from a particular country, pay attention to what phone numbers, addresses, and other details you put on your website.
Of course, if you have enough time and resources, it would be great to have your conference app profile, your LinkedIn page and your website proofread by native speakers, professional tutors or consultants. This will ensure that all of your key ideas are presented using the 3S approach (as my American friends like to call it) – Short, Simple and Stupid.

At the event, people won’t have much time to read through all your profiles thoroughly, so having concise bullet points that really hit home what you and your project are all about is crucial for grabbing your potential partner’s attention.
4. E-mail
  • First, please make sure that your email is not cutebunny14@gmail.com or something like that.
  • Second, link it to the domain of your company or startup.
  • Third, the caption should have all the necessary info about you in English: first name, then last name, phone with an international code, your project title, your position and any other contact details that you think might prove useful: your website or LinkedIn for example.

5.Prepare an invitation text
It is a kind of text that you will send in the app or on LinkedIn to people you want to meet during the conference. The text should be short, no more than 2-3 paragraphs, and written as clearly and politely as possible. Generally, it should greet the recipient, and explain to them who you are, what you want and what you are offering. It is relevant to share links to your projects, as well as to put additional information that is not specified in your profile.

6. Prepare a reminding text
Put together a template to send it to those who may have forgotten to check their inbox beforehand, or who have read it but didn’t have time to respond. Typically, reminders are sent out a day before the event, but don't be pushy and don't send more than one reminder.

7. Prepare a follow-up text
It’s a message that you will send immediately after the event to figure out your next steps with potential partners. The text is usually pretty long and contains a summary of the meeting, and a call to action which suggests what to do next. For example, you can suggest a Zoom-call, providing a link to your calendar, where your vis-a-vis can book a meeting with you at a convenient time.
Of course, such messages can’t be prepared completely in advance. You will need to edit the template depending on the outcomes of the meeting, and the things you discuss with your would-be partner.

Still, templates are huge time-savers, and I suggest you don’t neglect this task, as you will surely have to send out a lot of them after the conference.
8. Update your business card
Of course, in Europe business cards are not as relevant as they used to be. But there are delegates, for example from Asia, South America, or the Middle East, who still use them.

So, if you don’t already, have your business cards designed and printed out not just in digital, but in physical form as well (yes, I’m talking about old-school business cards in English, created according to international standards).

9. Prepare a short self-introduction
This is a short, 45-second mini-pitch you will use for self-introduction. I strongly recommend making several variations of it for different conversation contexts, depending on who you are talking to: a potential client, a potential partner or some random guy whose contact may come in handy in 5 years.

Ideally, you should know this small pitch like the back of your hand, and be able to recite it even if someone wakes you up at 3 am. It should be word-perfect and certainly revised so that vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation are absolutely correct.

10. Prepare some additional materials (hand-outs, flyers, one-pagers)
These materials will play the role of presenting or marketing your product/project during the event. It could be anything, ranging from a PDF-presentation to a T-Shirt with your logo and company name on it, from a smartphone one-pager to some print-out flyers.

All in all, any visual support enhancing the presentation of your product will go a long way. Remember: it should be something colorful, captivating, something that will remind your potential partners about you and your project.
Naturally, there is much more to discuss here: small talk, networking techniques, and don’t forget about cultural nuances, which must be considered no matter where your conference is taking place. To learn more about that, you can book a free 15-minute consultation or a full session with me.

I hope my checklist proves useful to you, and you’ll remember to tick off all these boxes next time you plan to attend an international conference.