7 Tips for Building Your Business by Attending Events
Guest Post: Ida Linden from Lovelyloot
If you’re running an online business or dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur, you probably spend all day on your laptop and mobile phone, communicating with clients, creating content, and constantly on email and social media. Sound familiar? While all those things are incredibly important, connecting with people in person is still one of the strongest ways to build your business – and industry events are an incredible way to do that. Here are my top 7 tips for successfully attending events:
Determine what you want to get out of it
There are so many amazing events out there, and you can’t possibly go to everything that just sounds fantastic. Think about why you really want to go and what you’ll get out of the event. Will you be able to connect with potential clients, meet new brands, get face time or book meetings with existing clients, connect with press, hear great speakers, meet up with colleagues, or learn new skills?
Do your research and be selective about the events you choose to attend
Talk to other people who have attended the events you’re considering and try to find out the audience who will be there. See if anyone has blogged or posted about them the last time they were held, and reach out to see what they thought and whether they’d go again, or if they have any tips. For example, I recently went to a makeup event in San Francisco, and bought a weekend pass. After talking to people at the event, I learned that most makeup artists, stylists and students were working on Saturday so it was a much less busy day to attend. That was great for me as the event was local, but left me wishing I’d just purchased a one-day ticket!
Events should be considered part of your marketing budget and evaluated like any other expense
Unless you happen to live in a major city like New York, Los Angeles or London, events will require travel, which can be expensive. Compile a list of the events you’re considering, along with the costs associated (admission ticket, flight, hotel, etc.) and plan as far ahead as possible (ideally 6-12 months). Many events offer an “early bird” rate, so if you’re organized you can take advantage of those deals.
Think creatively to make things happen
If there are events you really want to attend but initially seem beyond your budget, think about ways to cost costs: Do you have a friend or family member you could stay with instead of paying for a hotel room? Could you share a room with someone else who’s attending? If it’s a multi-day event, could you work for (or even volunteer to help) a brand or exhibitor at their booth for a day in return for a free pass to attend on another day? If you’re a blogger or writer, could you ask the event organizers for a complimentary ticket in return for coverage on your site or for another media outlet.
Prep your pitch and be authentic
Events are all about hustle, and you’ll be repeating the same thing over and over. Make sure your intro is polished, so you can quickly say who you are and what you do. We all know networking can be awkward, but the best part about industry events is that you’re with people who are interested in the same things you are! Ask questions to learn more about people beyond the surface level, and offer stories and tidbits about yourself. That’s what will make the conversation memorable for both of you and help you stand out. After each conversation, make a couple notes in your phone about your interaction to reference later.
Dress for success
Obviously, you want to look fantastic at any event – but you need to balance that with functionality. Choose an outfit that’s comfortable and not fussy, and pay particular attention to your shoes, since you’ll likely be on your feet the entire time. I usually wear wedges or flats. Your bag is another important consideration, as you don’t want to be rooting around for your phone or business card. I find a shoulder or cross-body bag with multiple pockets to be the best option, so you can keep your cards and collateral neatly organized and can reach for them without thinking, and have a separate pocket for cards you receive. Since most of the events I attend give out samples, I also carry a separate tote just for those items.
Follow up is key.
Events can be exhausting, but use that energy while you have it and reach out to connections that you make right away. Follow them on social media and tag them in posts you do about the event (also using the event handle and official hashtags). To save time, have a template email prepared that you can customize for each person and include details about your conversation to spark their memory.
Events have been one of the best ways for me to connect with brands, media, and customers – and even make some new friends! Do you have any tips for attending industry events? I’d love to hear them, so please share in the comments below.
Ida is the Founder and CEO of Lovelyloot, a free mobile app and the place to save and remember all the beauty products you discover (available now on the App Store). For fabulous beauty content, follow along on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.