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Getting the Most Out of A Professional Conference

By: Robert Middleton

Robert Middleton, of Action Plan Marketing in Palo Alto, Calif., has helped hundreds of professional service businesses attract new clients and get paid what they're worth.

His website is a resource for marketing professional services. Visit it at Action Plan Marketing.

I'm on my way to the IMC (Institute of Management Consultants) Western Regional Conference in Reno on Sunday and am preparing to not only learn a lot but to effectively market my business. A conference can be a great way to get exposure for your business. Here's a few ideas.

  1. Remember, everyone you meet is a potential referral source or perhaps even a potential client. But they can't refer you or do business with you unless they know and understand your business solution. Practice your "Audio Logo" or brief introductory statement that tells them how you help your clients. Mine is, "I help small service businesses attract new clients."

  2. Be prepared with plenty of business cards, but more importantly, get business cards from those you meet -- at cocktail receptions, at meals, during workshop sessions, and at breaks. And don't just collect cards. Make a note on the back about who that person is and what the potential connection might be.

  3. Bring marketing materials (like that one pager), newsletters and maybe even a portfolio of your work. At many conferences there are members' tables where you can display your information. Take advantage of this. And also collect other people's information so you can follow-up with them later.

  4. Be as visible and as actively involved in the conference as possible. Go to every session, every meal, every reception and every event. You will meet people and make business connections that will help you for years to come.

  5. Participate in workshop sessions. Stand up, ask questions, give your input and talk to the presenter afterwards. If you are invisible no one will get a sense of who you are and what you can do. The first key to all marketing is Visibility. 

  6. Do some follow-up after the conference. Usually you will get a list of everyone who attended. It can be very effective to mail to everyone on this list and ask if they would like to be on your mailing list or if they might like to know more about your service. Follow-up letters like these get a better response than cold letters because of the affiliation with your professional association. 

  7. Above all, have fun! People like to to business with people who are engaging, interesting and who have good ideas and insights. Don't hide. Let your light shine. You're sure to attract some attention that sooner or later will turn into some business.

© Copyright 2000, Robert Middleton

Other Articles by Robert Middleton

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.

 

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