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How Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Can Leverage the Conference Season

conference-season Every year at this time, people just like your ideal clients are getting their suitcase out of storage, packing them with business casual clothes, hopping on a plane and attending their industry conference.

And, there is SO much power in getting face to face with your ideal clients.  In fact, when you get face to face, you significantly reduce the length of a “traditional” sales cycle, sometimes by as much as 50%.

I believe that if you truly want to position yourself to grow your client base, you need to get out to conferences where your ideal clients are gathering so that you can meet them as an attendee, or even better, as a speaker.

When I got Marta’s question, my mind immediately went to so many ways to help you leverage this time of year.  But, before I get ahead of myself, check out Marta’s question:

“Hi Darnyelle, I absolutely love Incredible Factor TV!  Thank you so much for your amazing videos week after week!  We are entering conference season and I make it my business to attend one industry conference and one educational conference to advance my business each year.  I’m interested in your approach for networking when at conferences so that I can make the most of the experience and connect with others who could become clients or strategic partners and resources.”

To see my response to Marta’s question, watch this week’s episode of Incredible Factor TV:

As I share in the episode, networking is one of those marketing streams that never goes out of style, so finding ways to consistently maximize each networking opportunity is essential in the relationship-building process.

Yes, it’s about building relationships.  I highly recommend that you focus on meeting quality contacts and not being a business card ninja – you’ve met them… they just throw their business card at you, then spam you by blindly adding you to their list.  Avoid being a business card ninja at all costs.

So, if you, like Marta, are going to be spending the next few months at conferences, here are my top five strategies for leveraging the conferences you’re going to attend:

1. Set a new contact goal.  You’ll notice that I said new contact, not new client.  You have no way of knowing in advance who will be there and the role they may play in your growing business.  So, be open to connecting with the right types of people, which I like to call qualified contacts:

  • They are ready to use your products or services now.
  • They know people who are ready to use your products or services now.
  • They serve the same audience and compliment your offerings.

And, as you set this goal, be real with yourself because the fortune is in the follow up.  If you have no intention to call each lead and continue to deepen the relationship, don’t bother. In fact, you should just stay home.

2. Go to lunch and dinner with different people each time. By breaking bread with different people for each meal, you will meet tons of new contacts and can sift who is the most viable to build a relationship with after the conference.

3. Contact the local media, business journal and chamber to let them know you’re coming to town to see if you can get a meeting.  I’ve heard it said that a celebrity is anyone who travels more than 100 miles to a city.  So, since you’re likely a celebrity, let the media know.  You’ll want to have a compelling message that will prove interesting enough to feature, and it can be a great way to expand your reach and maximize your time.  When I travel, I always have a member of my team alert the local chamber of commerce and business journal. And oftentimes my business consulting jobs that I do when I am in town come from small businesses affiliated with either group.

4. Have your discovery questions prepared.  Knowing what you’re wanting to ask, based on the type of qualified contact they may be, is pivotal.  This is the best way to conduct primary research.  Talk to your ideal market about their challenges and determine if you have the goods to solve their problem.

5. Never give your 30-second commercial first.  Instead, let them talk about themselves so that you can learn.  Then, when it is your turn you can share a power statement that will be compelling to them based on their needs and problems.

BONUS: Think about getting a suite instead of a regular hotel room to offer on-site discovery sessions with your ideal prospects.

The power statement formula:  I help [ideal client] who struggle with [problem they have] do [what you help them do or other action verb] so that they [ultimate goal, transformation or experience].

Again, I can’t stress enough that the fortune is truly in the follow up.  So have your follow up plan ALREADY in place so that you can begin your follow up within 24 hours of the last day of the conference, assuming it wasn’t appropriate to set the meeting or hold the discovery session on-site at the conference.

Now I want to hear from you, what’s your two cents?:   Do you attend conferences?  How do you make the most of opportunities to meet new people?  Do you set a goal for the number of new connections? I know that Marta, as well as others in the Incredible Factor community, will benefit from you sharing your two cents.

©2014 by Darnyelle A. Jervey. All Rights Reserved. Darnyelle A. Jervey, MBA, The Incredible Factor Speaker, Business Coach and Marketing Mentor, is the founder of Incredible One Enterprises.com, Incredible Factor University® and the Leverage Your Incredible Factor System®, a proven step-by-step program for more clients, more income and more leverage in your business. For more information and a FREE audio CD “7 Critical Mistakes Entrepreneurs Must Avoid When Unleashing Your Incredible Factor So You Attract More Clients, Make More Money and Gain More Leverage” just fill out the form below.

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