As a coach, speaker, author, and expert, you should be attending a conference at least 2 to 3 times per year. Conferences are great opportunities for you to learn, connect with people, as well as create new opportunities for you to share your message with those who are looking for experts like you.
The challenge with conferences is that most people show up unprepared to take full advantage of the opportunity. The truth of the matter is that conferences are way too expensive nowadays for you to show up half-assed. Think about it… Between the conference attendance costs, hotel, taxis, food, and other gadgets, t-shirts, books, upgrades to new programs, etc., you can easily spend a few hundred dollars to even thousands of dollars depending upon how you roll.
I had an opportunity to attend PeriCON (now rebranded as #CatapultME17) on April 21st and 22nd and wanted to share a few realizations about the value of conferences courtesy of Jai Stone, the conference’s founder and Master Brand Coach.
Relationships are powerful. Jai Stone is very careful about who she connects herself to. Why? Because she understands that her reputation is the foundation of her business. When she decided to organize her first conference, she made it clear that she wanted speakers whom she could vouch for. What does that mean? That means that if you called her asking if you could be put on the stage, you probably got rejected if she couldn’t vouch for you as a business professional and a person.
Know what is valuable about you. When you ask for something from an influencer, what do you have to offer in return? I look at many of the major speakers on the conference roster and I noticed that many of them have a high number of ACTIVE community members connected to their business. Mario Armstrong has the #NeverSettleClub. Aprille Franks-Hunt has the Coach, Speak, and Serve Lounge. LaShanda Henry has her SistaSense Power Circle. Lamar and Ronnie Tyler of Black and Married with Kids have Traffic, Sales, & Profit. Many of these speakers have shown up on each other’s conference stages, telesummits, or online trainings. That means that they have a working relationship with one another. Rather than sitting back and wishing that someone with a bigger name would recognize their work, they focused on creating their own presence first, then have people come to them.
Giving is a great way to increase your visibility. One of the best ways to be seen at a conference is to get on the roster as a speaker. Speaking gives you instant credibility, no matter if you were doing a keynote speech or a small breakout session. Many of the speakers were very generous with the amount of information they shared during their session. They gave information that we could all go home and implement immediately. However if you missed the opportunity to apply to be a speaker, here are a few things you can do to increase your visibility at your next conference:
- Volunteer. Conferences are always in need of people who can do the seemingly small, but highly important tasks that keep it running smoothly. Time keeping for the speakers, people who answer questions and manage the flow of traffic in between sessions, passing the mic around during Q&A time, etc. — these are all jobs that are generally done by volunteers. If you make the decision to volunteer, be sure to anticipate the needs of the conference organizers and go above and beyond what you were expected to do. You can’t volunteer, complain about being tired, then sit on the sidelines and still expect a reward.
- Ask questions. There is always time for Q&A at the end of each session. Be brave and ask as many relevant questions as possible using the microphone. Why? Because people always remember the ones who have the courage to grab the mic and speak.
- Implement and follow up. Did you hear something at the conference that was useful in your own business? Make it a point to implement within a week after the conference is over — then tell the person you got it from about your success. If you have further questions, be sure to take the time to ask. Send this info via email, tweet, FB message, etc. This is a legitimate way to connect with influencers who are often too busy to get a hold of. However, they love to get real testimonials from people who are action takers. They get a real life example of how their strategies work, and you get to start building a relationship with someone you admire. Everybody wins!
Attending a conference is a great way to advance your coaching, speaking, and writing business — but only if you decide to make an active decision to participate.
What conferences are you attending this year? Leave it in the comments below so we can share information.