We all need to network in some form to build our businesses, and there’s nothing like face-to-face events to get the ball rolling. But there are too many choices, so what should you do? You have an idea of the types of events you’d like to attend. You’ve done a bit of research on each event, and you’ve given consideration to 5 important factors (we discussed these in a previous post).
Now it’s time to make a decision: should you attend an event or not? Don’t wing it, make a calculated decision.
Is this more of the same thing?
Take a look at the types of events you regularly attend. How does this event compare? Mix in some out-of-the-ordinary mixers, luncheons, breakfast meetings, evening socials, and conferences. Don’t stick with what or who you know, go out on a limb and shake it up!
I try to attend at least one event that on the surface has absolutely nothing to do with my business. Do you know how much fun this can be? You’ll step out of your comfort zone, and you’ll meet an entirely different cast of characters. I love getting a fresh perspective on what other professionals are doing. It lends to my creativity and it also keeps me in the loop in the community.
Will you know the attendees?
A major mistake people make when deciding to attend an event is this: will I know anyone there? Then if they don’t know anyone there they won’t give it a try. Why not? Your business depends on your effort, not mingling with your friends. I use this as the very reason to attend an event. You need to meet new people to keep a fresh perspective and increase your network.
Networking Tip: Don’t rely on following people on social media to build your network. Hit the pavement and build your network face-to-face with your prospects. (click to tweet this)
And be sure to connect, don’t stay on the sidelines and hold up the wall or take a seat in the background. If I make an effort show up, I stand front and center ready to interact.
Something came up and I can’t make the event, now what?
If you can’t attend an event, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun, networking, and information! Here are just a few ways I keep up with events I’m unable to attend to still take part and benefit from a networking perspective:
- Follow live tweeting/hashtags, lookup the event on Facebook to see if there is post-event discussion.
- Read blog post summaries from the attendees after the event. Post comments, ask the bloggers questions and gather more information.
- Review the event agenda and speaker bios – contact a speaker you’re interested in and contact them. If you’re intrigued by their expertise, let them know you didn’t get to hear their presentation but you’d like to find out more about the subject.
- Find event attendees you can reach out. If they’re in your industry or affiliated in a way, maybe you should be connecting with them anyway!
So you see, there are many things to consider as you plan your event calendar for the year. But the key is to PLAN. In summation, here are my 5 takeaways to managing your time and effort to attend professional events:
- Don’t leave your marketing to chance… make a plan and execute it, events included.
- Don’t let finances hinder your networking efforts, get creative and get the information you need.
- Follow up on new and existing connections. You do yourself and your business no good if you attend every event yet do no follow-up.
- Find an interesting mix of events within and outside your comfort zone to keep yourself motivated. Networking should be fun! (click to tweet this)
- Use your estimated return on investment of time, money and resources, as your best guide to making the decision to attend an event.
Get out there and engage with the right people to develop your business!