8 Tips to maximize and survive The Mobile World Congress
Here's a guide with some advice to maximize your output when attending MWC 2018 and other big events. It will help you with networking, dress code, transport, accommodation, nightlife, follow-ups and much more!
- You'll hear this one often: Bring at least twice as many business cards as you think you will need, and double that number again to make sure you don't run out.
- Download the App of the event; it includes many useful features such as access to the names of the attendees, options to send them messages, request meetings, see exhibitor profiles, the event schedule with seminars, keynotes and partner events, maps of the event, NFC badge etc.
- Buy a spare battery or an external battery charger, you don't want to run out of battery at the Mobile World Congress (There are many cheap and small yet powerful ones on Amazon). In case it happens, you can use one of the many power stations available, some of them even have little lockers where you can securely leave your phone to charge.
- Do you own a tablet? Take it with you! It has been the most useful item I had with me: taking notes (Evernote works great!), navigating through the congress App to check schedules, find the booths, contact attendees, schedule meetings, show materials to potential business partners, etc. - and its battery generally lasts much longer than a phone's battery!
- Take a small bag with you, where you can carry those business cards, the phone batteries, a bottle of water and a snack or two, as you'll never know when you'll have a chance to eat.(Queues at lunch times are ridiculous, sometimes >1 hour)
2. Networking (Before, during and after the event!):
- Download the App asap and use its features to start networking with other attendees and schedule meetings with them. The sooner you start doing it, the more likely the other person is to still have a free time slot to meet you. Plus, it will allow you to schedule the meetings according to your time preferences.
- Join LinkedIn MWC networking groups. There are dozens, and some of them have been created for attendees from specific regions. Search for "MWC" and "Mobile World Congress" groups and join as many as you can. Start discussions, talk about your products and raise awareness. You may even find out some of your connections will be attending too, or perhaps the potential customer you've always tried to convince is attending.
- Attend relevant presentations and approach your seat neighbours. You would be surprised how many attendees sit quietly without talking to anybody. Talk to them! They are all future connections and potential customers/business partners waiting for you.
- After meeting someone take notes about the conversation. This will help you to understand the context after the event - it is very hard to remember all details after continuously meeting interesting people over four days! An easy way is to write keywords on their business cards.
Remember at least one interesting and unique fact about every person you meet. When you follow-up or meet again, this will help you to keep the conversation going, it makes a good impression and your connections will appreciate it!
3. During the event:
- Arrive early. Queues for public transport can be endless. Besides, during the first two hours of the day, it is a lot easier to talk to companies at their booths because most attendees arrive after 10am. This will save you a lot of time and stress.
- Think twice before taking a cab. Due to peak time traffic and all the other attendees commuting to and from the event, traffic can be a nightmare. Last year it took me 1 hour for just a few miles. That's 60 additional minutes you can spend networking.
- In case you really have to take a taxi at the end of the event:
- Most attendees will queue right outside the event. Instead of waiting in that queue, walk five minutes and it will be much easier to find a free taxi.
- Consider public transport. While most of the attendees will be quiet when commuting to and from the event, this is a great opportunity to start a conversation. Most people appreciate small talk. I met very interesting people while stuck in traffic.
- MWC doesn't end at 6pm. Most attendees network during the night. Barcelona is a huge city and there will be many places with "MWC parties". Find out where they are, ask other attendees where they will be going and attend together. Some will go to clubs, others to bars or restaurants. Do not always talk about business, small talk is equally important. It is a lot easier to establish a long-term business relationship when you know the other person, i.e. you actually get to know their lives, their hobbies, their interests, etc.
- Make sure you book your accommodation well in advance, as most hotels accept bookings for MWC as early as a year in advance, and leaving it for the last minute can cause you an important headache when you acknowledge Barcelona has "only" about 35.000 hotel rooms, yet 85.000 people attend Mobile World Congress.
- For those of you traveling in groups, renting an apartment can be a) cheaper and b) easier to organize than accommodating the entire group in a hotel.
- Book early: The sooner you book your flights, the more comfortable will your flights times be. Try to arrive at least a day before, and don't arrive too late or depart too early, as any additional minute of sleep you can get the week before will be very appreciated during the event. There is nothing worse than starting a four day-long event with sleep deprivation.
- Arriving a day or two earlier allows you to pick up your congress badge in advance and avoid the queues on Monday morning, saving you precious time you can spend networking, attending seminars, keynotes or meeting potential business partners.
A free transport ticket for the four days is included in your pass, use it! Many attendees are not aware of it and buy unnecessary tickets.
7. Dress code:
- The dress code is business/professional.
- Men: Most men don't use a tie, but 90% of men wear a suit, even if Zuckerberg turned up in a grey T-shirt in 2014.
- Women: Avoid high heels! You will be on your feet all day, walking miles from 8am until 8pm.
- Both: Take at least one business attire in your hand luggage, so that in case your luggage is lost or arrives delayed, you still have one formal/professional outfit. And perhaps the most important item, comfortable shoes. Four days of non-stop walking and standing will kill your feet if you don't wear appropriate shoes!
The dress code is business/professional -> choose comfortable shoes!
8. After the event:
- Follow-up asap. The sooner the better. Mention the unique fact you remember about them in the follow-up. And make it easier for the other person to remember who you are by indirectly mentioning the context of your conversation.