Today’s fast-growing marketplace makes it more and more necessary to differentiate your services from the ever-rising number of competitors. The best way to stand out is to emphasize a specific expertise or to focus on a client base within a particular industry, sector, or region. Once you have done this, you will want to attend the conferences and trade shows that are pertinent to your specialization.
Most people neglect these events unless they can secure a speaking engagement of some sort. They don’t realize that networking with the referral sources, tastemakers, and prospective clients in their industry is alone worth the price of admission. More than likely, they went to a convention at some point where they found themselves in a sea of strangers, staring at rows of exhibition booths, and trying to figure out which of the six concurrent breakout seminars to attend—as a result, they vowed never to subject themselves to that experience again. But if you approach an industry conference strategically, the investment of time and money becomes worthwhile. At a minimum, make sure you employ these three strategies:
Meet the speakers. After each presentation, introduce yourself to the speakers and let them know what you liked about their remarks. Exchange business cards and stay in touch with them. Given that they were tapped to speak at the conference, they are likely regarded as an influencer in your industry. They can also help you secure your speaking engagement at next year’s conference.
Bring a wingman (or wingwoman). Attending with a colleague will help you divide and conquer the myriad opportunities at the con. If your wingman is a client, they can comfortably introduce you to other prospective clients as they talk up the good work you’ve done for them.
Host or attend an event. Don’t rely on the conference agenda to put you in a room with the right people. Host or attend a private dinner or cocktail party with key prospects so that you take advantage of the target-rich opportunity.
My hope is that you corner more of your niche or specialization in 2019 so that you are regularly attracting the types of clients you want. Industry conference attendance is a good avenue to that destination. So, which cons are you attending this year?