How to Get the Most Value from Attending Live Events

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by Dana on September 26, 2013

 

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Attending live events is critical if you want to play a bigger game in your business, but I often see business owners making one of two mistakes. First, they’re not getting themselves out there enough. Because they’re mainly marketing their business online, they get comfortable hiding behind their computers. Or, alternatively, they are traveling to live events—but they’re not doing the right things to ensure they see a return on their investment. In this week’s strategy, I’m sharing my top tips for getting the most value from attending live events.

TIp #1: Choose your events wisely. 

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. Check out this blog post I wrote which includes a few key things to consider when deciding which events to attend.

Tip #2: If possible, learn more about the attendees before you get there.

Many times, event organizers will create a private Facebook group for their attendees—particularly for larger, national events. This is a great strategy to help their participants feel connected even before they meet in person. Or sometimes the event coordinator might create a Facebook event where you can see who else is going. In either case, be sure to check out the attendees beforehand to help you target who you’d like to connect with when you’re live—and be active in the group, so you’ll be recognized yourself.

Tip #3: Make an effort to connect with at least 5-10 people you don’t already know at the event.

If you go to an event with people you know, it can be tempting to hang together the entire time. Or if you’re an introvert, you might just want to keep to yourself. But live events are a great way to build strong connections with like-minded people who can help you grow your business. You don’t have to meet a ton of people, but focus on making deeper connections with just 5-10. Here are the types of people you want to be on the lookout for…

  • Potential clients
  • People who share the same target market as you, who you can strategically partner with to promote each others’ services, pass referrals and get more exposure (think guest blog posts, guest interviews, telesummits, joint ventures, affiliates, etc.)
  • Service providers you might need in your business and/or life (e.g., graphic/web designers, business coaches, virtual assistants, branding or PR experts, health coaches, personal trainers, image consultants, finance coaches, relationship coaches, etc.)

Tip #4: Consider sponsoring or exhibiting at the event.

If you know this event will be full of people who fit into your target market, you might as well get the most bang for your buck by securing an opportunity to promote your business directly to the entire group. Just make sure that you have a mechanism in place to capture your leads,  that you have someone from your team there to help you manage the booth so that you’re freed up to connect with individuals personally, that you have a great offer for the attendees (either your “can’t resist gift” or a special discount on one of your upcoming programs—or both!), and that you’ve got a killer follow-up sequence in place. — I promise to cover more on this topic in a future blog post… :)

Tip #5: Take notes about what you liked and what you didn’t about the event.

Depending on your industry and personal preferences, you might be considering hosting a live event in the future. Let me share something that I do at every event. In addition to taking notes on the workshop content, I’m also taking notes on what the host is doing, indicating what resonates with me and what doesn’t. For example, how is she introduced, how does she get people’s energy up during that post-lunch lull, how does she cut off someone who’s going on and on while asking a question? These are tips I know will come in handy (and save me time & frustration!) when planning my own future events.

Tip #6: Increase your exposure by providing a testimonial for the host.

At many events, the host will ask for testimonials from the attendees. Sometimes these will be in writing, but many times, they’ll designate a specific area where participants can provide video testimonials. Depending on the reach of the event host, providing a testimonial can get you massive exposure (just remember to include your website and a brief description of what you do!).

Tip #7: Follow up!

As they say, the fortune in the follow-up. Be sure to send the folks you connect with an email after the event to let them know how nice it was to meet them and learn about their businesses, and express that you’d like to stay connected over time. You’ll also want to connect with them on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and their Facebook page, if they have one). Record their contact info in your database (you do have a contact database, right?) and have a system to reach out regularly (as you see articles of interest, potential opportunities they might be interested in, etc.).

Tip #8: Schedule time after the event to incorporate what you’ve learned into your business.

While we’re at an event, most of us get all jazzed up about the information we’re learning, taking copious notes and having the best of intentions to implement what we’ve learned when we get back home. But then reality hits! We come home to an overflowing Inbox and a task list a mile long. I recommend blocking your calendar off the day you return so you can take time to review your notes and integrate what you’ve learned into your strategic business plan, with specific actions you’re going to take to move your business forward. (Don’t have a strategic business plan? Then we should talk…)

Tip #9: Be sure to track all your expenses.

Professional development is an investment in your business, and as such, it’s tax-deductible. So be sure to keep all of your receipts and track your expenses. (Note: Consult your business accountant for more details on this.)



Feedback?

I’d love to hear…Do you build attending live events into your business plan? Do you have any additional tips to share on increasing your return on investment? Please go ahead and post in the comments below…

 

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