Originally published on Entrepreneur Magazine on July 7, 2016.
Investing in your business is an ongoing journey. Here is what I’ve gathered over the last five years of attending events.
I have seen that those that take building their business seriously tend to go to events and interact with others face-to-face. They invest their money on tickets, hotels, flights and other expenses related to hitting the road. They travel across the country to interact with other business owners, partners, and hopefully new prospects.
Those that refuse to attend events get left behind. They also miss out on the valuable relationships that can develop. One of the most important reasons for attending events is the face-to-face interaction with people. It accelerates the KLT factor (Know-Like-Trust) and expands your current network.
There are three types of events that every business owner must attend to grow their businesses.
1. Industry events.
Every industry has events that are mainly attended by your peers. Industry events allow you to explore new innovations in your field. You interact with peers that might be years ahead of you. You can connect with new strategic partners and joint ventures.
Attending events where you are surrounded by those that have a similar business to yours allows you to discuss the changes in the industry and exchange information on new insights to improve your level of service and profitability. One example of an industry event is the NSA Influence Event where professional speakers gather with other speakers. I am a speaker and this one event that is a must on my schedule.
Your industry likely has a huge national conference to deepen your learning.
However, don’t stop at industry events! For one thing, you will rarely find new clients at these events. If you do find them, you are in a buyer’s market. That one prospect in search of a service provider will meet dozens of people in your industry. You’d have to really stand out to get business.
2. Learning events.
Gaining a new perspective and discovering new strategies will speed your growth when you attend events outside your industry. Attending events where your primary goal is to learn something new is a great investment in your business.
Attend conferences or other specialty events that have a specific focus that is right for you. Warning: These events will likely be more expensive to attend because you get what you pay for. If you are expecting to turn your business around by attending a $97 event, you likely have a lot more to learn about money and investing.
One great example of a “learning event” is Inside Edge. This event was launched by Angelique Rewers, CEO of The Corporate Agent to help business owners land lucrative corporate contracts. Inside Edge has one specific goal: to teach new approaches and strategies to sell six figure plus contracts to corporate buyers. I offer this as an example to highlight the fact that you won’t learn what is taught at Inside Edge by attending industry events.
Attending events where your primary objective is to learn can be thought of as a strategic advantage. You will learn what other professionals are doing and implement those innovations as you see fit.
3. Ideal client events.
These are the events where the primary attendee is your ideal client. Ideal client events expand your reach beyond your current network. These events are chocker-block full of prospects. Quite simply, these events are your best chance to get sales.
Imagine attending an event where no one sells what you sell and the room is full of prospects. This puts you in a seller’s market. You’ll have dozens of conversations with people that need what you have while gaining a deeper understanding of their struggles.
A way to make the most of “ideal client” events is to test your messaging. When you have conversation after conversation with people, you can test and refine the way you talk about what you do and create more ways to create invitations to the next step. This is an example of accelerated learning. The bonus here is getting to see facial and body language cues as you interact with people — a factor unavailable through online communication.
Another example here is Derek Hart, founder of Get The Gigs. Derek is a branding and creative for speakers. Derek helps them clarify their brand and get more speaking engagements. Derek attends events where the primary attendee is a speaker to interact with his ideal clients.
One final note that ties all three of these events together is how you attend the events. You have the choice to just attend the events or you can decide to step up and be a speaker. To put this more directly, you can either be in the audience or on the stage. The choice is up to you, but if you want to learn more about getting speaking gigs, check out this infographic on 7 Steps to Getting Speaking Gigs.
Investing in your business is always a choice and attending any of these types of events will propel you toward your goals.