Summer time is one of the most popular times of the year for various industries to hold seminars. With kids out of school and (usually) lower travel costs, many professional and trade organizations host two and three day events to focus on the industry, new products, and emerging technology.
So how can you make the most of these events? Too many times, we see clients that attend these events and don’t take full advantage of the networking and business opportunities they offer. With that in mind, use these tips to build your business – and remember, these seminars very often can be subsidized by your taxes and your business, so there is no reason not to use them to the utmost!
- Networking is mandatory Make sure that you are reviewing the itinerary of the conference to see not only who the speakers are, but who else is attending. This is an ideal chance to meet speakers and attendees that can further your business and remember, everyone there is at a different part of their own business journey. You may be looking for a mentor, but others are too, and there is no reason that you cannot be a mentor to others.
- Plan to be spontaneous You need to go into an event with a gameplan of who and what you want to see, but never lose sight of the fact that something might catch your attention you previously knew nothing of. Don’t get stuck on one speaker or booth and forget to visit others. If you meet a potential new business partner, don’t ditch them just so you can go see another speaker – many times, there will be video feeds of other speakers available to you to review what you couldn’t attend.
- Know how to build your network Most of us are terrible at remembering names and all too often, resort to exchanging business cards and never following up. Here’s a hint – take a picture of the business card and email it to yourself with a short description in the email. As a result, you can easily send an email the next week to follow up and from there, actually DO business or at least discuss it with your new contacts.
- Have an Elevator Pitch ready Even if you are attending a seminar or conference specializing in one particular field of endeavor, knowing what it is you do and what it is that you specialize in is critical to being able to share that with others. Sure, it may be easy to simply say “I’m an attorney” but delivering a minute’s worth of well-orchestrated introduction can allow your new friends to understand what it is you specialize in and how your company serves clients and who those clients are. Remember, in every field, there are specialists and no database is complete without knowing who they are.
- Follow-up We already touched on this a bit, but the fact is that of all the business cards you exchange at a conference or seminar, most attendees will shove them into a drawer in their desk and never take the time to reach back out to those people. Not only does this represent a huge amount of potential lost business, it’s also a congruency issue. After all, when you got that card, you both said, “I’ll call you”…. Be the one who does reach out, if only by email. If your company is using a CRM, then this is even easier, since you can draft one email to send to all the people you met. Remember, most sales occur after the fifth contact, so the more you reach out, the better your chances.
Seminars and conferences specific to your industry or trade are a great way to continue your education and bring new insights back to your field but only if you take part in the action. The great thing is that many of the costs to attend these can be “written off” for your business, so why aren’t you going? If you’re hesitant to go because you’re unsure how to document such actions, then I invite you to come in, sit down, and let’s discuss how to document this incredible chance to grow your business and enjoy the tax benefits of it at the same time!
I’m Patrick LeClaire Enrolled Agent. Call be at 407-287-6638.