At one time or another, we’ve all attended live events. This could be a concert, a conference, or a book reading by your favorite author. But, have you ever thought about prospecting at these events?
You’ve probably heard a million times that you should attend the live events your target market attends. For example, I have a friend who writes for garden centers. She attends live events like Home and Garden shows. And my friend who writes for veterinarians, he attends … you guessed it … conferences for veterinarians.
But, when you’re attending these live events with the intention to secure information AND leads, you need to know what to do and what not to do to be noticed …
Most conferences post signs that say “No Soliciting.” Well, basically, that would be you. So, you need to know the best way to get in and work the Exhibitors Hall without getting thrown out as a “solicitor.”
And actually, it’s not that hard to discreetly and successfully prospect an event.
These seven tips will ensure you remain at the conference and walk away with leads:
First, be sure you’ve practiced your “elevator speech” ahead of time so you come across as knowledgeable, self-assured, and at ease. Look professional, be confident, and always smile.
This tip is VERY important. You need to be careful — you HAVE to be discreet. Remember, you’re looking for leads, and so are all of the paying vendors that are there. That’s why they paid the big bucks for their booth. They won’t appreciate it if you’re there as an attendee blatantly soliciting their prospects. If you’re caught doing this, you may be shown the door without a refund.
Walk up to a vendor booth and engage in casual conversation with the exhibitor. Ask questions about their product while showing interest in it. Ask them for a business card while giving them one of yours. Be sure to mention that if they have need for freelance services, you also work with their types of companies as well.
Attend the seminars, classes, and demonstrations. Make a note of who asks questions or makes comments. These people make great prospects. Seek them out later and start a conversation, referring to the question or comments they made. They’ll be impressed to know someone actually listened to what they said AND came looking for them.
When you receive a business card from a prospect (attendee or exhibitor), be sure to write something on the back (like the conversation you were having, what they looked like, a marketing need they may have expressed, etc.). This makes the person giving you the card feel that you’re genuinely interested in them. Also, you should be collecting a lot of business cards, so if you don’t do this, you may not remember who gave you the card or why you wanted it!
Follow up, follow up, follow up … you haven’t heard this enough! The very next day, drop them an email letting them know how much you enjoyed your conversation with them, mentioning specifics of the conversation. Keep it friendly. Just remember, the longer you wait to follow up, the colder the prospect becomes. You don’t want them to forget you!
Mostly, have fun! People enjoy being around upbeat, cheerful, positive people. You’ll be more memorable, too!
When asked for advice for someone who’s never prospected a live event before, Social Media & Email Marketing Specialist, Andrea Williams, had this to say:
“It can be unnerving and overwhelming your first time out. However, there is one key thing to keep in mind. To show up at a live event, the participants have pulled out all their stops. You will see their best marketing. And the truth is that it may be lacking.
“So, rather than worrying about how you don’t measure up, just go out on a reconnaissance mission. Observe, ask questions about what they do, express curiosity in the specific things you have an interest and expertise in. That will lead to a natural and engaging conversation.
“The very next day (even if you aren’t home yet!), be sure to shoot off an email referencing specifics about your conversation. Keep it light and personal, noting how much you enjoyed chatting. And finish by offering to share several ideas you have about how they might improve X or Y. Suggest a time to be in touch.
“And then, whatever you do, send that sucker! Follow up the next formal workday by phone.”
You now have everything you need to prospect at a live event. So, figure out what live events your prospects will be attending and start planning your strategy to be there. Who knows … you just may come home with a handful of new clients!