How do I decide which live events to attend?

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by Dana on February 20, 2013

As an entrepreneur, you know that there’s no shortage of events out there that you can attend to help you grow your business. There are local networking events, conferences, workshops, national expos and more. And while you certainly should be getting yourself and your business out there in a big way, you simply can’t attend everything. So you need to be strategic when you’re making decisions about where you are going to spend your limited time—and dollars.

As I see it, there are really five reasons why you would want to attend a live event.

1. To find potential clients: You want to make sure, as you’re building out your event calendar for the year, that you are adding events in the mix that enable you to “fish where the fish are,” so to speak. The idea is to find places where your ideal clients are already gathered for you—and then insert yourself there.

For example, let’s say you’re someone who works with busy corporate women. You want to research the groups that are already gathering these women for conferences—both locally and nationally—and you want to make sure you’re there. Even better, you can see if you can sponsor or speak at these events, to get even more exposure with your ideal clients.

2. To develop strategic partnerships: Secondly, you want to think about your strategic partnerships.  Particularly when you’re attending national events, you want to think about who you might be able to connect with there, in a way that would be beneficial for each of you. Whether it’s for Telesummits, Giveaway events, joint programs or general cross-promotion, you never know how you might be able to support each other in the future.

Specifically, you want to look for people who are also targeting your ideal market, but in a non-competitive industry. For example, I’m a business coach who works with women entrepreneurs, so great strategic partners for me might include virtual assistants, web designers or bookkeepers, who are also interacting with these people.

3. To connect with centers of influence: Third, you want to think about centers of influence. These are the people you admire and follow, who are further along on the path in their business than you are. Then, try to figure out how you can potentially get myself in front them. For example, you might want to attend a conference they’re hosting.

And once you’re there, you want to get yourself noticed. If participants are able to come up to the microphone to answer questions or share, be sure to get yourself up there. Or you could consider bringing a little gift to the event host. The goal is to find a way to stand out from the crowd so you’ll be remembered going forward.

4. To learn valuable skills to help you grow your business: Next, you’ll want to attend events for training purposes. For example, maybe you’re focused on expanding your marketing this year. If so, you’d want to attend an industry marketing conference. One of the things that I’m focused on this year is expanding my speaking business, so in the next month I’ll be attending a workshop that’s focused on just that.

So you want to look at your business goals for the next year and strategically think about what additional skills you need to build to help you achieve those goals. Then, make sure you attend one or two live events that will help you acquire those skills.

5. To grow your referral network: Finally, you’ll want to attend live events for some good old-fashioned networking to build referral-based business. This certainly happens at a national level, but more often you’ll likely find yourself networking locally. In your community, you may have groups that meet regularly, like BNI, which stands for Business Networking International. You can find these groups all across the country and it involves meeting with a group of fellow business owners on a weekly basis, so you can get to know each other’s businesses and refer customers to each other (provided it feels like a good fit). There are a number of groups like this out there, so you can just check out your local groups online and figure out which one(s) would be a good fit. I always recommend being part of a group like this.

So now that you know my top five reasons for attending live events, you want to make sure that you have a mix of those in your calendar—on both a local and national level. I personally target 5 – 8 local events a month, along with at least 4 national events a year. That’s my plan, but you can figure out what works best for you—depending on your lifestyle and business goals.

{ 4 comments }

Kimberly Palsson April 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I found this very helpful. I attend a lot of events, but sometimes it starts to feel like I’m not in control, or following a bigger plan. Thanks for your insight!

Dana April 9, 2013 at 12:36 am

So glad you found it helpful!

Mary May 27, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Hi Dana,
Great info. I’ve been digging for a while to find events where my clients are so I can fish where the fish are. I’m finally making progress here. Thanks for sharing your expertise.
Mary

Dana June 4, 2013 at 1:13 am

Awesome! So glad you found the content valuable and that you’ve been finding some ideal events to attend! :)