5 Ways to Build Your Business at Conferences
If you’re like me, you go to a fair number of conferences as a speaker or as a participant. Some conferences are great and some are not so great. To maximize the marketing value of every conference every time, follow these five strategies and your conference experience will be productive and profitable—on either side of the platform.
AS A SPEAKER
1. Offer to conduct pre-meeting surveys and one-on-one phone interviews with three types of conference stakeholders:
- Members of the organization’s board of directors or executive leadership
- Prominent or highly successful members of the group, such as the Alpha Dogs
- Sales/marketing executives of longtime sponsors, exhibitors and key vendors
2. Collect email addresses from every audience.
Offer an irresistible piece of content (a full-priced info-product, 50-page PDF resource guide, in-depth audio program, etc.) and invite people to give you their business card at the end of your program. Mention that you’ll invite them onto your newsletter and give them the option of opting out by writing “no news” on the back of their card. My experience has been that 80 percent of people will give you their card and two percent or less will write “no news,” so you’ve just captured 78 percent of the email addresses in the room.
3. Fly in early, stay late and hang out.
Get a feel for the group, the industry, their language, their urgencies, priorities, and points of pain and pride. Refer to these in your presentation and you’ll get repeat and referral business.
AS AN ATTENDEE
4. Review the agenda and devise an onsite game plan to “accidentally on purpose” connect with or be introduced to:
- Other speakers with whom you’d like to build a relationship
- Key executives in the industry who will be speaking or attending
- Key vendors, exhibitors and sponsors who are potential clients
5. Follow up on the spot and prepare your post-conference multi-touch campaign.
Bring note cards, envelopes, stamps and business cards. At the end of each day, review the business cards you’ve collected and notes from your breakfast, lunch, coffee, dinner and drinks meetings For the folks with whom you’d like to stay connected, write a brief handwritten note personalized with what you talked about, address it using their business card, stamp it and mail it. Your note will be waiting for them when they get home. Next, map out a series of touch points (emails, articles, resources, social media invitations, phone calls, a gift copy of your book, etc.) so you can quickly establish a high-trust, high-value relationship. Implement these five strategies and you will always enjoy a profitable conference experience.