“One of the goals in business as an entrepreneur, business owner, salesperson or marketer is to receive your best return on investment of your personal assets at all times. Those assets are your time, your energy, your ability, your money and your reputation (your brand). The key is to invest those assets rather than spend them. I have put together proven “how to’s” to make your attendance at events and conferences really pay. These tips can apply to any conference or event you or your people attend. My suggestion is to review this valuable document before attending and after attending an event.”
Before The Event
What are your objectives? Set some objectives or goals for the event. Examples:
- Arrive back with a minimum of 20 excellent contacts for future business, future referrals, possible new team members etc.
- As an individual or as a team member, each member will write down the three most important learnings that they will implement when they arrive back from the event.
- Make it a team “upliftment” event. Take your entire team or take a client or potential client or even family members and friends with you (pick up extra tickets and take a client) and grow the relationship or meet them there if you know they are attending.
- Have dinner after the event with a client or important contact who is attending the event.
- Consider using the event for some specific prospect / client research that could lead to an appointment. Two or three questions will do. It is a mini needs analysis.
“Prioritise Your Objectives”
Be prepared: 90% Preparation 10% Perspiration! Have the following with you and/or review these tips to ensure that you maximise the learning opportunities and the contacts you make:
- Lots of business cards, brochures, memory sticks etc. with you…set a target for giving away. If you are a student or are unemployed have personal business cards made up and carry them with you.
- Good size book for making notes when listening to the presentation.
- Small pocket size / purse size “lead book” for writing down contact details. Have symbols that tell you how urgent it is. E.g.: A “star” for important / immediate, “happy face” for later follow-up and a “heart” if you are in love again. LOL.
- Have branded promotional items to selectively give away.
- Brainstorm the questions, requests and objections people may pose once you introduce yourself. Be prepared with good clear answers.
- Have your “smartphone” or “camera” with you to take photos that you can send to people later and post on social media…with their permission.
- Have a quick training session as a team to go over how to best maximize our return on investment at the event.
- Review the start and end times of the event. Be there 1 hour before the start of the event to maximize your networking opportunity. Have a map of where the venue is and count on heavy traffic. Leave early.
- Have credit cards or cash with you for buying refreshments etc. (At some events you could purchase a Diamond ticket and let the organizers pay for your refreshments)…if this type of ticket is available.
- Also in advance be sure to have your credit card or debit card or lots of cash with you so that you can take advantage of the special offers made by some of the speakers. This can help support you so that the information and the impact of the speakers can last for a lifetime.
- Put together a “special introductory offer” in reference to your services or products if appropriate.
- As a team, agree or decide on a dress code. Remember it is easier to dress down than dress up. E.g. It is easier to take off a necktie or jacket than find a necktie and jacket at an event. “In many situations we do not get a second chance to make a first impression.” Also…“We cannot judge a book by its cover although an attractive cover does earn the book a second look.” Look your best!
- Remember, if you are engaging with someone and discuss your products or services remember to introduce advantages and benefits not just features.
- At the event listen more than you talk. Ask meaningful open questions and do not over step boundaries with new contacts. Respect them.
“Listen to understand…not just to respond, defend, advise or sell.”
- To ensure you maximize your learning opportunities and networking with the top 5% of attendees at an event like this make sure that the day off work (not earning) really pays by:
- Being in the front row sitting in a lounge chair. That way you are comfortable during the entire session and there will be minimal distractions. In addition you are close to the guest speakers and it becomes more personal. It helps anchor you for future recall of how you felt and what you heard. If there is such a special ticket like a Diamond ticket you would also be the first in the room along with other influential individuals.
- Take the special exclusive package, if you can, that gives you private registration and allows you to network with an exclusive group of attendees in a private room before the event and during breaks.
- Attend the luncheon with the speakers if there is such a package. Prepare a good question in advance for the speakers and get a photo with the speakers. Include that photo in your marketing materials, your “brag book”, on social media sites and display it in your office. It shows others including clients that you invest in personal and business development. The photo can also be an “ice breaker” and “open up” a conversation.
- Avoid the line-ups where attendees have to buy their refreshments. With a special ticket if offered, you can often be part of the exclusive group that has the organizers supply these extras including things like a manual, pen, free goodie bag plus a CD of the event for sustainability purpose.
Note: It may sound like I am encouraging you to enrol and purchase an exclusive type ticket offer like a “Diamond” Package. That is what I am doing. For the extra investment it could “Really Pay” you 10 times over. Saying that…a General Ticket or even a FREE Ticket at the back and no frills is still a good decision. I am only suggesting that you treat yourself as special to get your best ROI of your time, energy, ability, money and reputation (brand) if possible and if it is offered.
At The Event – Networking – “Leveraging Time and Energy
The scope of networking is incredible. To give you an idea, consider the study that was done in the 1970s in which people in the United States were asked to try to get envelopes delivered to particular people in Africa. They had to pass the envelopes on to people they knew personally, who could pass it on to people they knew, and so on until it got to someone who actually knew the person in Africa and could deliver it there. The study tracked how many times each envelope changed hands before it got from a randomly chosen American to a randomly chosen African through people who knew each other. On the average, the envelope changed hands five times. Apparently, a similar study was done with envelopes going from West Coast of the United States to the East Coast. They got there faster than they did through the post office. (That was when post offices were effective). That’s the power of networking.
Imagine that the company you work for stopped all advertising, took down their online marketing, took the sign off the front of the building, took its name out of the Yellow Pages and all online directories and removed all the “normal” ways to build customer traffic. What could you and management do to generate new business? What if the company were in a really tight financial spot and did not have the money and leverage to join associations or run advertising or buy into a directory or even rent a list of contacts? Besides sales calls you and the rest of the key people in the company would need to start networking. Management would sit down with the staff and see what kind of options everybody had for finding leads and referrals. Networking is not only a great way of generating leads, but is a great way to reach someone faster than through the normal channels. We also grow and learn by networking with the right people…that’s why I recommend a Diamond Package at an event if it is possible.
In countries throughout the world there are tens of thousands of meetings being held daily. During these meetings, salespeople and other business people have a tremendous opportunity to gain new contacts, new business, retain business and develop their own professionalism. What is networking?
Networking is the name for the process that often bypasses the hierarchy of organizations and shortens the rapport and trust building process, with individuals. The right contact can introduce you to the right person saving you the hassle of dealing with unnecessary underlings. With networking you leverage your time. Meeting and associating with the right group of people can also enhance an individual’s knowledge and experience, increasing the chances of a more successful career. This is often as important as the contacts. New skills and knowledge allows you to do more in less time as well.
Following is a slightly adjusted Networking Guide For Business People that comes from some of my sales and personal marketing systems. It will give you the important basics of networking that can help you market yourself and your company more effectively at Conferences and Events.
Networking Guide for Business People
Who you are
It is “who you are” from the inside-out that will determine the type of people who will be attracted to you as network companions. Today, most people will not endorse you just because you are a friend of a friend. They have to believe you are a person of reputable character and good intent and can deliver. Remember, you are on stage at all times, so don’t burn any bridges. Build bridges, build relationships and you will build your business.
Strangers are opportunities
Most of us have been taught to be cautious of strangers. Someone who understands the power of networking sees every stranger as an opportunity. The opportunity could be someone you offer to buy a coffee for, open a door for etc. It could also be someone serving you at the event or even a salesperson attempting to sell you a product or service at the event. Be open. Treat all people with respect.
Don’t be a social climber
Networking is not social climbing or seeing a dollar or rand sign stamped on everyone’s forehead. You and I can recognize people who are out to make it to the top by using other people … and we become cautious when around them. Be willing to assist others along with receiving. Sometimes the most valuable benefit we receive is personal and business development through the knowledge we gain. The key is to remember to always be respectful, courteous and give value in some way for leads and referrals that are given to you.
Allow your contacts the room to say “no”
We have all experienced someone phoning us to ask if we are busy on Tuesday evening and when we answer “no”, they ask us to do them a favour like mind their children for the evening. Often by approaching with a question we set up and unfairly leaves the other person very few options. We don’t usually do this intentionally. I suggest that we tell people upfront exactly why we are calling and then they can easily side step the request if they wish to. We are not out to trap people. It is also wise to let a contact know that if they feel uncomfortable, you would feel okay if they did not give you a lead, or introduction. A great personal example of an upfront statement would be; “Jack I’m not sure if you can help me or not. Please say no if it is not convenient at this time. Mary and Charlie were going to mind our children on Saturday night while we went to a wedding. Charlie’s mom passed away and they cannot do it. Is it possible for you to mind our children on Saturday night?” This way I’ve given Jack the full story so he can say “Yes” or “No” without getting trapped. Usually we ask…what are you doing on Saturday night? They answer “nothing.” We say “great can you mind our children?” They are trapped.
Your results determine a big part of who you are. If a network contact gives you a lead, be sure to give a 150% effort when handling that lead. Be sure to phone your network contact and let them know how you made out. The objective is to become “referable.”
Don’t attempt to sell during social functions
At networking functions the prime goal is to “break the ice” and set up an appointment for further discussions and exploration. By attempting to sell yourself and your product while your new contact is trying to socialize could be perceived as insensitive, selfish and inconsiderate. The exception to this rule is when the other party literally asks you to do business here and now. That’s when the two of you move off to a quiet corner for a few minutes to complete the discussion.
It is better to have a network contact introduce you personally to a prospective client than you phoning and saying Joe Smith gave me your name. A letter of introduction or a phone call in advance by your contact has more “clout” than the standard approach. Even a note on the back of the person’s business card or a quick sms from the contact who is introducing you can be effective.
Be the “host” or “hostess”
I have a friend who continually gets drinks and munchies for other people when at social functions. Many people get the impression he is the host even though he is a guest. This makes people more appreciative of “who you are”. Try it … it’s fun! Remember in new relationships others watch how you handle waiters, waitresses, parking attendants etc.
Maximize your business cards
Give your business card to new contacts at the beginning of a conversation so they have something to refer to for remembering your name and company. I would also suggest that you design a business card that folds and has your services on it. The business card is a sales tool. When leaving tips, or buying merchandise, leave your card so people know you and your company. When you receive a business card…accept it with both hands, look at it, make a compliment and then respectfully put it away. Also handle your business card with respect and care.
Make it clear what you do
Many businesses have missed out on tremendous opportunities because their friends, relatives, and associates did not know exactly what their career entailed and why the service or product provided is better than the competition. We have all heard of the elevator pitch. Barry Mitchell a top sales trainer in South Africa and good friend of mine has a great format. I married it with my 7 step approach and used the 5 steps. Make sure you have a good intro. I like intro better than “pitch.” Here is one I use following the 5 steps. See the template below and develop two of your own.
5 Step Elevator Intro (Pitch)
||“I’m Bill Gibson”Attendee: “I’m Siya Mapoko…Bill what do you do?”
||“I’m the Chairperson of a company called Knowledge Brokers International located in South Africa, Canada and the Middle East. I have been in the sales & training development industry for over 45 years.”Attendee: “That’s interesting.”
|3. Time Frame
||“In the past 20 years my team and I have been helping dozens of South African and International sales forces increase their sales in less than a year by as much as 300%. For example…”
||“…Vodacom Direct increased their sales by over 100% in less than 6 months when we conducted a sales intervention for their contact centre.”Attendee: “That’s impressive”
||“I can’t promise you the same although would you at a convenient time be interested in looking at the processes and tools that helped our many clients achieve similar results?”Attendee: “I sure would be!”
After The Event
Set up a follow-up system
Organize a system so that you immediately follow-up your contacts. Always carry a small notebook with you when at Networking functions or cards to write details on. You could use your tablet or smartphone also.
Send useful materials
Become a researcher and photocopy or scan useful information that your networking leads would appreciate receiving. Whenever you visit a potential client, take something useful to them.
Edit your contacts
After an event most of us have far more leads than we can handle. Edit your names to establish priority leads and focus on those first. Break them into potential AAA, AA, A, B, C and even D (Detach).
If your business can warrant it, pay a finder’s fee to sources that refer business to you. The money is a reflection of your thanks. The finder’s fee could be theatre tickets, airline tickets, a weekend for two in a hotel, etc. Be sure it fits the governance of that person’s organization.
Join the right organization
Your time is extremely valuable, so carefully assess which organizations or events provides you with the strongest opportunity for networking. I am not suggesting that you drop out of your charity organisation role or “Big Brother” or “Big Sister” organization, but I am recommending that for the purpose of networking, “look before you leap.”
Hold your own networking function
Hold your own VIP lunches and breakfasts or parties at specific times of the year. Invite the right people.
Permission To Contact
Remember, once again, one of the main objectives of a “Be Seen” strategy is to build a data base of prospects and clients who have given you permission to contact them. This way you are not using Intrusive Advertising and Marketing…you are using Permission Based Marketing and Selling.
12 Point Guide To Making It Happen…From Ideas To Action
- Train Each Other
If we really want to learn something the best way is to teach it to someone else. For the next 3 months have team members (one or two at a time) review a learning they received at an event.
- Listen To Audio CD’s / Watch DVD’s
Purchase audio CD’s or DVD’s from the speakers and play sections of them at each meeting and discuss how to use the material, the benefits etc.
- Start Now
Most of us have a tendency to procrastinate on moving forward with projects and ideas. It is often because we are not sure if this is the right time, if we have the “know how” and whether or not the way we have chosen is the correct way. Post this statement in several places where you can see it. It will definitely help you move forward.
If Not Me…Then Who?
If Not Now…Then When?
If Not This Way…Then Which Way?
Do It Now!
Think of the times you have not gone after something because you did not feel qualified and later you find out someone else less qualified than you got it. Don’t wait…Think…Start Now!
- Watch Out For Sabotage
Within every one of us there is a part of our ego that likes to sabotage us just before we are about to win. When it comes to implementing new ideas where we are on a schedule of developing new habits the “sabotage” ego often steps in. Here is how it happens
You decide to exercise four days a week. The first few weeks you are right on schedule then one night you go out and over indulge with friends and don’t feel like exercising the next day. You drop your exercise that day and a day later you are exhausted from working and you skip another day. Inside of you a part says “I blew it, what is the use? I am off my schedule.” At that point many people give up on themselves. Here is the key.
Just start again as if you had not even missed a day. Compliment yourself for starting again and just say you will do better this time. Most important of all is: Do not beat yourself up. Just get back in there and laugh it off.
This type of scenario could happen when you decide to make a certain number of calls each day, decide to go to work early each day, etc. It is not easy to develop new habits overnight. None of us can control all the external circumstances that assail us. The only thing we can control is our reaction to those situations. So be ready for that part of you that may try and sabotage your actions by making you disappointed in yourself. Be kind to yourself and “laugh off” that part that tries to play the sabotage game.
- Know Why
It is tough to follow through on actions, especially during challenging times, if we do not understand the “why’s?” Whatever action you are working on, take the time to list all the benefits and rewards you and others will receive by you accomplishing what you have set out to do. Knowing “why?” is the fuel of motivation. With the motivation you will find the “how?”
- Get Quick Results
If you have to wait forever to see results it is easy to lose momentum. It is important to pick several “to do’s” that you can accomplish quickly or that show quick results. As you know, in selling, if you start off the day with a couple of small sales, it still feels great and you automatically pick up speed. Make sure you see quick results.
- Visual Action
Another way to keep things moving is to start off with projects or actions where you and others see the action visually. If the name of the company on the door of your car was an idea … do it immediately. You can see it … it means you have moved to action! A new suit, a unique business card, a personal marketing brochure or a powerful visual presentation can motivate you and others. You can see the action. If you are working on a three month project try and execute a visual action every couple of weeks. After an event put up reminders, posters, quotes etc. immediately.
- Keep Score
If people played sport and they did not keep score there would be very few players and virtually no fans. Everyone likes to know how well they are doing. Visual graphs, milestones, daily and weekly feedback on what has been accomplished, helps to fuel the fire of motivation. On long term projects the real result may not be seen until it is complete, but the motivation can lessen because of a lack of feeling of accomplishment. Set milestones and see them as “points of achievement.” This is a way of keeping score. It is also important to stop and celebrate how much you have achieved. The difference between a goal and a dream is a goal is a dream with a deadline.
- Utilize A Mentor/Model
If possible seek out other people or companies that have accomplished or are experts at what you are trying to do. Study these people and if possible meet them personally. As you get to know them, you will realize that these people are ordinary people just like you. At that point you realize that if they can do it, then it is possible for you too. These people and companies become models of possibilities. An indirect mentor/model is someone who you do not know personally, but you study them through books, CD’s etc. A direct mentor/model is someone you invest time with and study and learn about. Remember the more you get to know mentors the more you realize they are not perfect. Don’t write them off. Celebrate, because if they can do it with their problems, it means it is possible for you too.
- One To One Support
This is different than a mentor/model. This is where you ask an associate, sales manager or a friend to act as a monitoring and support person. The role of this person is to see and hear what you plan to do, make suggestions, act as a sounding board and have regular meetings with you to monitor your progress and your motivation.
- Include More Morale Boosters
When you are attempting to implement a number of new things in your business or personal life, you need periodic morale boosters. We are surrounded with negative news, “can’t do” thinking and unsupportive people. Set up a schedule over the next six months that includes two of the following each month:
- Listen to a complete set of audio CD’s on sales, motivation and/or personal development.
- Read an inspirational book that will improve you personally and in business.
- Watch DVD’s, YouTube Clips etc. that encourage self-improvement or improvement in business. This also includes viewing the CD’s and DVD’s from the event several times. Each time you will get a new meaning from the CD’s and DVD’s.
- Attend a luncheon/dinner/conference to listen to another inspiring speaker.
- Attend additional training programs that can add to and support what you are doing.
- Reward Yourself In Advance
Have you ever given a waiter or waitress a tip before they served you? Try it? You will be amazed how quickly they become motivated. The same principle can apply with you. There are things you may want to reward yourself with for the project or action you are going to take before you actually do it. That is like someone getting a new job and he or she goes out and buys a new outfit to help her perform better. It is a reward in advance of doing the actual work. Look for ways to reward yourself in advance. It is inspiring.
I trust that you and your team members have had a quick “tune-up” and that you will now maximize your return on investment even more effectively…before, during and after Conferences and Events.
If you are a sales director, sales manager or executive who frequently runs meetings and would like a copy of my 24 Point Guide on “Putting Sizzle Into Your Meetings” please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us at +27-11-784-1720 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Otherwise…I will see you on the 29th of May in Johannesburg (Brian Tracy & Friends) or in Nigeria on the 6th of June. (The AYEEN 2015 Networking With The Giants Conference)…be sure to introduce yourself to me. Enjoy the great speakers…I will be “on stage” at both events.
To make contact with the event organizers, to order more tickets or for general enquiries the AYEEN Team can be contacted in Nigeria at: 081-520-69933 / 081-282-43059 or Head Office +27-11-791-6390 (Johannesburg, South Africa). Their website details are: http://www.ayeen2015.org/ For the Brian Tracy & Friends Event in South Africa on May 29th you can contact the organizers at 0861 000 539. Their website details are: www.realsuccess.net / www.realsuccessclub.net.
To view the T.V. commercial for me appearing in Lagos, Nigeria on June the 6th click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1C1IDkd5Ts.
“If you have found this blog article to be valuable for you, I would be grateful if you “shared” it with your Social Media Networks. Also feel free to circulate it by e-mail or other means internally within your organization or externally to your clients, suppliers and personal and business network. Thank-you!” – Bill Gibson
Bill Gibson is a Canadian who is living in South Africa. He is an international speaker and author and a developer of sales, service, marketing, collecting, employee morale building, personal development and entrepreneurial training programs and systems. His blog is www.bill-gibson.com and his website is www.kbitraining.com. He can be reached at email@example.com or phone +27-11-784-1720 in South Africa. You can follow Bill Gibson on Twitter: @billgibson1, connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gibsonbill or Knowledge Brokers International SA Pty Ltd Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/knowledgebrokers?ref=hl