Getting Out of the Conference and Convention Trap
If you’ve spent any time manning a booth at a conference or convention, you probably know how futile such efforts can be. You stand there for days, shaking hands and making connections, but how often do you develop real, long-lasting professional relationships with the contacts you make there?
The problem is that large events like these can often be riddled with competition, leaving small-business owners lost in the crowd. It’s hard to stand out when seventy other booths surround you, all filled with great small businesses, especially if those businesses offer services similar to yours. There has to be a better way to network.
As Time Magazine recently pointed out, one of the best ways to jump-start your business is by hosting your own event. By putting together a small webinar or in-person seminar, you can bring together members of the business community to share stories. Most importantly, your business will be highlighted since you’re the host of the event, making an indelible impression on everyone who attends, and potentially earning your business more clients.
- Rent after-hours space. As Time pointed out, many conference centers and meeting spaces are in full use during weekday hours. Consider hosting your event at the end of a workday. This will not only allow you easier access meeting space, but it will also allow busy small-business owners and employees to attend after work.
- Allow plenty of advanced notice. Whether your event is being held online or in person, it’s absolutely essential to notify attendees at least a couple of weeks in advance. Busy schedules have to be juggled to squeeze your event in. Too far in advance and your attendees may ignore the invite, but too little notice and you’ll miss people who already have plans.
- Put technology in place. If your event is a webinar, it’s important to let attendees enroll and test the meeting to ensure they’ll be able to connect. Many webinar services require Adobe Flash to be updated, and some require QuickTime. Failure to let users know of these requirements prior to the event could result in multiple members being unable to view the event.
- Have usable content. People aren’t going to take time out of their busy schedules to listen to a thirty-minute sales pitch about your service. Pick an area within your expertise that people are currently interested in learning about, and provide really valuable information about it. If people like what they hear, they can’t help but remember your business name.
- Provide a takeaway. At the end of your presentation, be sure to give your attendees something to work on. This will keep you fresh in their mind in the days that follow. Also, encourage everyone attending to contact you if they have any questions. While you may be required to spend a few minutes on the phone giving free advice, you never know if that person will become a new client, or even refer someone else to your services.
If the thought of hosting a webinar or conference seems intimidating, remember, it doesn’t have to be a two-hour event. In fact, making it a short one-hour presentation will lure in those people who don’t have time to commit an entire evening.
If you feel uncomfortable speaking, invite a well-spoken employee or colleague to help out. You can even co-host the event with another local company to share some of the workload while providing different perspectives on the same topic.