With a new name and new format, the state’s largest business-to-business networking event the Mississippi Business Marketplace, takes place today, September 19, at the Mississippi Trade Mart. It’s the 31st year for the event that was previously called the Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO. For the first time, vendors will be allowed to sell their wares at the event. What hasn’t changed is the valuable face-to-face networking businesses and individuals can do to make the most of their time at Marketplace.
Mississippi Business Journal Publisher Alan Turner says the changes were made as a result of input from many of the event’s valued exhibitors. “We decided to move the event from April to September because spring is a very crowded exhibition and event period in Jackson, and we thought the fall would make the most sense for our exhibitors,” he said. “We also decided to change the name from Business and Technology Expo to the Mississippi Business Marketplace, as we have expanded the scope and content of the event. We feel the title of Business Marketplace is more fitting for what we want to present to the business community.”
Turner added that this year the MBJ is featuring several special events as a part of the Business Marketplace. “We’ll present our Healthcare Heroes event at a special breakfast, recognizing and honoring a great group of healthcare professionals. At lunch, we’ll present Leaders in Finance, recognizing and honoring many finance professionals.” he said. “As always, we’ll offer our Business After Hours at the end of the day, which is a great time for all, with wonderful food from many participating restaurants, music, an open bar, and fun. “We certainly hope to see a great turnout from Mississippi business professionals and interested parties for this year’s Business Marketplace.”
With personal contact still important in today’s digital and online world, Turner stresses, “You don’t have to build future business relationships just digitally. Person-to-person meetings are still a very effective way to build contacts and conduct business.”
AT&T Mississippi President Mayo Flynt says there’s always something new to learn from other businesses. “Marketplace is an important venue for companies to learn about trends in business and emerging technologies and also allows local companies to connect and expand their businesses,” he said.
A few tips to help maximize your business’ potential at Business Marketplace include the following:
» Do make personal connections. It’s not just about products or services. It’s about where the person is from or where they went to school. Do you have any friends or relatives they may know?
» Don’t just take a business card blindly. Take a minute to notice things such as the address or the job title; it keeps the conversation going.
» Do get organized. There are plenty of websites such as Plaxo.com that can help you create a digital catalog of your business cards.
» Don’t forget to send a short e-mail to meaningful connections, thanking them for their time and reminding them of the conversation. Ask them if they want to follow up over lunch.
» Do take advantage of any trending technology. QR codes, for example, are little bar codes that can be printed on business cards. These contain an embedded website URL that can be scanned by your smartphone and take people to your company or personal website.