As I was listening to several of my clients discuss their conferences and events in the upcoming weeks, it suddenly occurred to me that we are in spring conference season! Conferences are an excellent business development strategy for generating leads, deepening current client relationships, expanding your networking, and gaining more visibility.
Here are some strategies you can use to leverage a conference for business development:
- Set clear goals: Before attending a conference, define your goals and objectives for attending. This may include finding new leads, networking with potential partners, learning about new trends, or showcasing your company’s products or services.
- Plan your schedule: Once you have identified the conference sessions, events, and activities that align with your goals, create a schedule that maximizes your time at the conference.
- Be prepared to have great conversations: Attending great sessions is definitely valuable at a conference. However, for business development purposes, meeting people and having great conversations is key. Plan out powerful questions and freshen up your knowledge on some interesting news and trends in your industry.
- Network with other attendees: As mentioned, networking is one of the most valuable aspects of attending conferences. Make an effort to meet new people, exchange business cards (or digital cards/LinkedIn profiles), and follow up with them after the conference. For important connections, get a commitment to talk again, either during the conference or after it’s over.
- Share on social media: Whether you love it or hate it, social media is a powerful tool and can reach more people than we can normally reach in a given day, week, or month. Sharing highlights, pictures, or simply that you attended the event can reinforce your specialty, interests, or niche area in order to deepen relationships or start new connections.
- Follow up with leads: One of my favorite phrases is “the fortune is in the follow-up.” After the conference, follow up with the leads you have collected. Send personalized emails, connect on social media, or set up follow-up calls or meetings to deepen the relationship. Develop a plan to consistently stay top of mind with those that may become a good referral source or future client.
Remember, the key to leveraging a conference for business development is to be proactive, prepared and focused on your goals.