Today is a little different, we’re going to cover another way you can build your list, it’s different only because it’s not online.

We know you’re doing all the behind the scenes marketing work, like blog posts, email marketing, creating your own marketing graphics, recording videos, and connecting on social media. That’s great, we know there are lots of wonderful opportunities doing these things but would you believe that you can also build your list and market your business attending live events and conferences?

Attending live events is a major marketing opportunity that many business owners shy away from for a variety of reasons. But remember that in your overall business plan, you shouldn’t be planning ONLY for the quick sale. Ultimately, you want people to remember you and you should develop relationships with others both online and in real life so they will refer you to their circle of friends. Forming that relationship is also how people will get to know, like, and trust you, which will lead to sales and other referrals.

Yes, you can develop relationships online via social media and videos but why pass up the opportunity to meet people in real life? You never know who you will meet; your next big client may be somebody who lives in your home town. Or maybe you’ll meet your favorite icon at a conference and become inspired to achieve more. Or maybe you’ll meet someone who offers services you can use in your own business. You can never predict who you’ll meet at different events.

Working an online business can also become very lonely, so attending live events is simply a way to get out of the house! Start off easy by attending a business networking meeting or a simple Meet Up in your area. If you enjoyed the experience, you can certainly expand your horizons with a BNI membership or joining a local networking club. Once you start researching, you’ll discover a whole variety of opportunities, from those local events that meet weekly or monthly, to conferences that last for multiple days.

Live events also offer the opportunity to learn new things through classes or workshops held during the event. For example, the Beachpreneurs event is held annually in Florida for 3 days where the women attendees listen to the guest speakers but also break into workshop groups to work through what they’ve learned from the speakers. This also allows the attendees to share their business stories and experiences, which is also perfect for learning how to handle certain tasks or situations that may arise in business.

Another example is the WPPI photography conference held annually. Those four days are crammed with classes in which experts teach different photography techniques. Not only can attendees ask specific questions but they get hands-on practice in class and then can develop the technique to use in their business. Even though you can watch a video tutorial on how to perform these same photography skills, there’s just something magical about being in the same room as the teacher. Live conferences make the instructors more approachable than when you’re watching their video online. At live events, they welcome questions and enjoy engaging in conversations with attendees. You never know what valuable snippet of information you’ll learn from an instructor just by having a private conversation with them.

Which Events Are Right For You

When choosing events that will benefit you and your business, first think about your personality. Are you an extrovert who thrives on big gatherings or an introvert who prefers conversations in smaller groups? While there’s something to be said about stepping out of your comfort zone, how beneficial is it for the introvert to walk into a huge event, alone, on the opposite side of the country? Likewise, will an extrovert get bored at a local event with 100 people or less?

Another crucial task when determining which events are right for you is to set up a budget. How much expendable income do you have for plane fares, event tickets, hotels, food, taxis, entertainment, and babysitters for the kids or pets? Obviously, traveling will be more expensive than going to a local event but you’ll need to weigh the benefits of traveling vs staying local and determine which event will give you more ROI.

Now, let’s explore the pros and cons of each type of event:

Big vs Small

Social Media Marketing World boasts an attendance of 5,000 social media managers, bloggers, podcasters, and industry leaders and is held in San Diego, CA in February. That huge number of attendees means you’ll have plenty of people to network and socialize with but you’ll only meet a small fraction of those attending. Big conferences like these also boast the more well-known guest speakers, names you’ve likely heard before and probably follow online. But…because the speakers are more well-known, and it’s high priority travel season for San Diego, the event ticket prices will also be more expensive.

On the other hand, a smaller event, such as Exposure and Profit, will have a smaller venue, smaller attendance, and the speakers might not be as well-known. However, you still have the opportunity to mingle and network with other attendees and you’ll have a better chance of meeting everyone in attendance. You’ll also have a better chance of meeting the speakers because of having fewer attendees. The event ticket will also be less expensive so it will likely fit into your budget.

Niche vs Broad

A niche conference is one that focuses on one particular group of people or one particular type of business. It’s very specific and will have very specific goals for that niche. One such event is Beachpreneurs. This event caters to female business owners and aims to create a sisterhood or camaraderie among its attendees. A benefit to a niche event is you’ll be among other like-minded people who belong to this niche. While your experiences won’t be identical, though networking and mastermind workshops, you can learn new skills or strategies from the speakers and attendees. At Beachpreneurs the speakers also participate in the mastermind workshops, making themselves very approachable to the other attendees.

The Traffic and Conversion Summit is considered a broad event because under the broad title of “traffic and conversion” there are many different ways to attract traffic to your site and to convert those visitors into buyers. You could probably hold a niche event for each of the topics they will cover at their next summit! A benefit to attending a broad event is you’ll get more of an overview of the subject matter with speakers adding in their more detailed viewpoints but a common downfall to this format is it can be extremely overwhelming to have SO much information thrown at you at once. Knowing how to determine what information you need and how to implement it properly is key to making broad events beneficial to your business.

Local vs Out of Town

For obvious reasons, sticking with local events will be easier on your budget because you won’t have to pay for hotel, cabs, or airplane tickets. All you’ll need to spend money on is your event ticket, food (if not included in the event ticket), parking, and gas money. If you’re in the San Diego area, Traffic and Conversion as well as Social Media Marketing World would be considered local events for you, so don’t equate “local” as meaning “small”.

So far, all these events we’ve mentioned are days-long events but those are not the only types of events to attend. Have you visited a BNI chapter yet? BNI has over 8,000 chapters worldwide and they meet on a weekly basis, usually early morning hours before most businesses open. You have to apply for membership and they usually limit the types of companies they accept so members aren’t competing against each other. Some chapters are large while others are small but the object for all chapters is to learn what the other members do and to refer prospects their way.

Look for other networking events through your local Chamber of Commerce. They usually hold quarterly networking events that include a guest speaker, networking time, and possibly dinner. They also have different committees on which to serve, thus meeting even more local business owners on a regular basis. The biggest benefit to staying local is you meet other business owners in your community, which is great for passing along referrals or asking for sponsorships or gifts for charitable events.

Look on Facebook for other local niche groups, such as professional women networks or other local networks specific to coaching. Most of all, no matter what event you choose to attend, don’t be afraid to interact! If you’re excited about your business, others will be drawn to you.