When you’re growing your business, one of the best things you can do is get out and meet people. The problem is that there are so many small business events to choose from: networking events, conferences, trade shows, workshops, and expos.
So how do you find the right small business events to participate in – as an attendee, exhibitor, or speaker? The key is to answer the following questions:
What are your goals?
- Build brand awareness: As long as you are determined to meet new people, any event you attend or exhibit at will fit the bill.
- Grow your network: Definitely networking events.
- Develop or increase thought leadership: You’ll want to speak at a conference or trade show, or hold a workshop or seminar.
- Find new clients: Got an awesome elevator pitch? Do you listen for opportunities? Do you provide incredible value? All events are great, no matter how you participate.
Who is attending?
No matter how fun, cool, or exclusive the event, unless your target market is attending the event, it’s a waste of your time. Ask the organizers point-blank who will be there.
If you’re exhibiting, you can likely get a list of attendees ahead of time. If you’re speaking, you might be able to. Knowing who is in the audience will allow you to tailor your speech, pitch, and marketing materials – and that’s key to making a big impact.
How will you be promoted?
Whether you pay money to exhibit at an event or take time out of your busy schedule to speak, ask the organizers how, when, and where you’ll be promoted. You can then play off of their promotions – or even suggest other ideas.
Do you have the time and resources to promote your participation?
If you don’t, you might want to pass on the opportunity.
How much will it cost to attend?
Did you ever price out the cost of attending SxSW? It is stupid expensive. But even the cost of attending local events can quickly add up – registration is typically not free. Consider setting a monthly, quarterly or even annual budget for live events to ensure you don’t break the bank.
Can you earn back your ROI?
Attending events is an investment in the growth and success of your small business. Do a little cost-benefit analysis before committing. How many clients or projects do you need to land to make your participation worthwhile? How many products do you need to sell?
How will you follow up?
Have a follow-up plan in place ahead of time so you don’t lose the momentum you built at the event. Block off time on your calendar immediately after the event ends to follow up via email or phone call.
Yes, there is a lot to consider – but the more carefully you choose the right events to participate in, the more you will get out of them!
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