By Catherine Franz
Are you scratching your head after business events wondering why you aren't finding prospects? Whether it's your first or 100th event, here are some tips on how to prepare for your next event that can make the difference between scratching and smiling. These tips will help you save time, money, create memorable impressions, and increase connections.
1. Know your intention. Why are you attending? Listen to your self-truth. Are you attending to refine your skills, build relationships, make sales, or need to just get away from the office? Intentions work best when they are limited to one. The limitation clarifies and directions all your actions. When there are multiple intentions, you begin with confusion and convey the same to all at the function.
Does your intention match the type of event? If it's a Christmas party and your intention is to generate sales, there isn't a match. You don't want to give a negative first impression; they take too long to change. If you aren't sure what types attend the event, contact the event manager, and ask or use of the theme as your answer.
What does your business need? Maybe you need a referral, are looking for a new employees, or accountant, or image consultant. A need can be a secondary or first intention. If you decide to include a need into the equation, make sure you know what that need is, how to present it and to whom. After you ask, what is the next step? Clarity is necessary for success. You job is to be ready for when it appears.
Are you ready for the sale? I've met many people who want sales but aren't ready for the orders. If someone says yes at the event, are you ready with the next step? If not, reconsider your attendance. It is better investment to focus your time on finishing the preparation. A first impression of not knowing what you are doing isn't a good impression to give.
2. Continuing with the topic of needs...what are your short-term, medium-term, and long-term needs now? If you are seeking short-term funds and the event is about building relationships, medium to long-term, then it might be wise to pass it up for now and pursue endeavors that match.
For a new business, short-term is three months or less, medium-term from four or six to eight months, and long-term is anything over that. Short-term projects usually match short-term funds, and so on. It's like buying food and paying for it over a six-month period when the food only lasts 30 days. You are buying apples to pay off with oranges, and the two never mix well.
If there is a mixture, do you have something available to sell that will generate short-term funds? For coaches, whose prices do not fall into the short-term attraction range, selling coaching with the thought that it makes short-term funds is a mix match. Coaching falls into medium-term and long-term and seldom short-term unless your name is very recognizable.
3. It takes three contacts before people are aware that you exist. It doesn't matter if this is in person, an ad, or three ezines. What three do you use to create awareness for yourself? This is why the 60-second elevator speech is important. Yet, by itself, it's too lonely. Shaking hands and carrying on a discussion is another but that is still shy of three. If you write Internet articles, bring copies to the event. Don't place the articles on the general table, personally hand them out so people can connect the two.
4. Rehearse don't practice. Create a list of 10 opening questions, choose a few at a time from that list, and rehearse them with colleagues, friends, or family. Rehearsing is interacting with live people and is closer to what you will actually be doing. Practicing into a tape recorder is the next best thing because it allows you to hear the voice others will hear. If that makes you twinge, then maybe that is exactly what others are feeling as well. Work with a voice coach to refine your tone.
Here are ten story-opening questions to get your started.
Pull from these and then create your own.
(1) What do you enjoy most about what you're doing?
(2) What is the strangest (or funniest) incident you've experienced in your business?
(3) What marketing have you found most effective in your business or industry?
(4) What is your key product (or service)?
(5) What do people like best about working with you?
(6) What is your number one need at the moment?
(7) What do you like most about coming here? If it's their first time, "What do they like most about the event thus far?"
(8)What business trends do you see affecting you right now (or next year)?
(9) If I had an ideal customer of yours in front of me right now, describe them.
(10) How do you see this event helping you in your business?
Know what actions you want to occur and what are their triggers. Rehearse until smooth, not strained. Are you going to ask them to become a subscriber for your newsletter? Visit your website? Sign up for a workshop? Set up a time for coffee? You will most likely have several calls to action, limit them to five, and never request more than one per person per event. Otherwise, you will come across as too pushy or confuse your listener.
Ask attendees to join you in the next step. "Ask and you shall receive." Ask if they are interested in having a call together. Ask if they would like to be a subscriber and mention the main benefit people tell you why they enjoy receiving it. Ask if they would like to register for your workshop. If they answer anything other than yes, they aren't interest, it's important to just move on. Never, never, never, promise to call and don't. The label will follow you.
5. Differentiate yourself from others in similar professionals. Even twins have differences. Leave the humbleness at home. How are you different from others in the same profession or selling the same type of product? Can you explain the differences in 2 minutes during any introduction if needed? Any longer and the listener zones out because the conversation is no longer about them.
Due to its importance, let me repeat this. If you don't know what you're selling, how you are different, or have a clear direction on your current prospect needs, then you aren't ready to attend any events yet. Spend the time defining these first.
6. A memorable moment includes several items. One of the items is your personal style. You can accomplish this in your selection of clothing, tone, or language. You can wear scarves or ties with themes, a comment-getting pin, hats, and the same color in shirts or shoes. I knew a man who always wore cowboy boots. He had a wide collection, they matched his accent, and people could spot him across the room. Did his style increase business? You bet. Create a style and treat it like your trademark or calling card.
7. Know what you're marketing strategy for attending this event -- all seven steps. What happens after yes, after they become a subscriber, or any other call to action you have? Always have the next step planned no matter which direction the conversation goes.
Be the leader and they will follow. Be the leader, inside and then out.