Whether you’re already a leader in your industry or you aspire to be just that, hosting a business conference can be a great boon to your credibility as well as your networking.
You can invite industry leaders, movers, and shakers to your event and use the occasion to showcase your own products and services, discuss best practices in the industry, and more.
Here are a few tips to help you when planning and hosting your first conference
- Select an appropriate location – Depending on the size of the event you may find that a boardroom in a local hotel is sufficient. Other events may require a convention center capable of hosting 100’s of people. Decide how large of an event you’re planning on holding and plan accordingly.
- Establish precisely the focus of the event – Interested parties want to know exactly what they’re attending, why they’re attending it, and what the value is for them. Steer clear of vague descriptions of events: .i.e. “Learn how to save your business money.” Instead, provide a more targeted focus, i.e “learn how to save money through streamlined accounting processes.” Not only does this make the purpose of the event clearer, you’ve also just told the target company who they should send to attend and theoretically you wanted to talk to the head accountant or CFO in the first place.
- Keep expectations realistic – As your first event, your attendance might be minimal. Not only should you prepare for this to be a possibility, prepare for this as though it were on purpose. Of course you want to gather 100 high quality industry professionals, however your first time you may be looking at closer to 10. Keep it small and manageable and you can grow for your next event.
- Have a registration process – If you invite 20 people, you want to know that 20 people are going to show up. Having a registration process, even if it’s a free event, can help establish a head count which can impact how big of a space you need or how much food you order, etc. Having a registration process is also useful for our last tip.
- Follow Up – Devise a way to follow-up with your attendees. Collect their email addresses at registration and follow-up a week later. This is a great way to re-establish contact with your attendees, especially if your intention was to sell them on a product or service.
Use this as an opportunity to thank them for their attendance, re-iterate your product, and inform them of future events as well. Remember, the whole point of your event is to establish contact, not lose touch.
As an added bonus, smaller events are less expensive to host and easier to plan as well as adapt on the fly should an unexpected issue arise. They also allow for more one on one interaction and personal attention.
Hosting a business conference or seminar can be a great help to getting your name out there and interacting with the quality professionals you want to interact with. Properly done, it’s the type of focused network marketing that can make a difference down the line.