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Conferences and trade shows are a time-honored way for companies to publicize their business, make important connections with industry leaders, and develop relationships with new clients.  More than 1,500 events take place in the United States each year.  But how do you decide which events are the best fit for you?  Read on for some tips on how to find events that will help your company shine.

Point A or Point B?

Airfare isn’t cheap – and that’s before you add expenses like hotel rooms and business lunches.  If you’re a smaller company, you might want to think about opportunities closer to home.  Metropolitan commercial centers like New York City and the Silicon Valley host multiple high-profile conferences every year, but if you’re based in Boulder or Pittsburg, you might want to see what events you can find in your own backyard.  Local networking might give your company more cost-effective ways to scale up your business fast.

Industry Events

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It Really Is All About You

Conferences can mean thousands of stellar contacts under one big roof, from market leaders to inspire you to tech start-ups looking to help you revolutionize your services.  Since your time and your money are finite, it might be a good idea to think about what leads are most valuable to you right now.  Are you hoping to expand into another state?  Do you want to build your product line?  Are you embarking on a new phase of your business and looking for information on a new format or platform?  Starting with your immediate needs can help you prioritize your event schedule for this year.

Due Diligence

Once you’ve decided what your priorities and your costs are, it’s time to get details.  Read up on speaker events and presentations to make sure that the specifics suit your needs.  You’ll have a variety of options, from high-profile speaker events to presentations about common problems or “pain points” to workshops.

Everybody’s Talking

Not sure whether to believe the hype?  Go online.  You’ll be able to find reviews from past attendees.  If it’s a waste of time, they probably won’t be shy about their disappointment.  If they were impressed, you’ll know it’s a worthwhile investment.  Consider sending a few cordial emails to past attendees to ask if they’ll be attending this year.  You can get the inside scoop on advantages and challenges you might not foresee, and you can introduce yourself in person at this year’s event.

Find Your Niche

Chances are you have a good sense of where you and your business are right now.  What about the people you’re planning to meet?  Are they new to the industry and looking to break in?  Are they more established and hoping to maintain their momentum?  Are they at the top of their industry and looking to add innovative new components to their business?  Most sizeable annual events will publish an aggregate profile of attendees at past conferences on their websites.  Think about which contacts are most interesting to you.  And if an event has an attendee profile that doesn’t match you at all, it might be best to look elsewhere.

Find Your Style

Think about the way your team absorbs information.  What does their workday look like?  Do they spend a lot of time researching or managing archives?  Do they lead meetings or facilitate conferences?  Do they work with code or build educational materials?  These days, most industry events offer multiple formats for learning and dialogue.  Think about what works best for you.  And if you can only send one or two representatives, think about their learning style.  Do they like speaker events, or would they rather have some hands-on training?

Don’t Forget the Vendors

The trade show exhibit hall usually isn’t a conference highlight, but you might be surprised by what you can find there.  Many vendors provide conventional services like paper products – but their success depends on their ability to find, develop, and provide the next new thing.  Do you want a mobile-responsive website?  Do you want to offer personalized products using a new program?  Are you trying to figure out how to implement time-tracking apps for your sales reps?  Vendors will walk you through your options and help you find your best plan.  You might even have a chance to preview technology that you can use to become a pioneer in your industry.

Stand Out from the Crowd

Events can be daunting and dazzling at the same time, offering attendees the chance to meet industry superstars, cultivate relationships with customers, and get a close read of the competition.  With some conscientious research and proactive planning, you can sort through the exciting array of options and build a strategy for success.

If you’re looking for more ways to get maximum value out of industry events and other networking opportunities, we recommend working with a team of marketing professionals who are dedicated to helping each client succeed.  Feel free to call or email Square 1 Group today!