Maximizing the Business Benefit of Conferences and Trade Shows

PDATo keep current I travel quite a bit and attend a number of industry specific trade shows and conferences each year. If there is any business on earth where staying current on evolving trends and technologies is critical, it is search marketing.  We know from having been around diverse businesses for a long time  that staying current is important in every occupation.

Not much is static these days in any profession given technological advances in every field. In this post I’m going to share tips on maximizing the benefit of conferences and tradeshows you attend.  If these techniques can work for an Internet marketing company (an industry moving at the speed of light) the techniques will in all likelihood work help your business harvest value when you attend business conferences.

During my flight from Duluth, Minnesota to New York City (my favorite place on earth) I reflected on how crucial the information I harvest from SES and other conferences is. The opportunity to train, network, and debate with search engine optimization, social search, and pay per click (PPC) colleagues is always an intense jump start. While each conference I attend yields value even if I relax and simply soak it up, there are a few proactive techniques that work for me to reap maximum benefit from each event we attend.

Bring Laptop or PDA and Take Session Notes
I always sit near the back. That’s where power outlets are usually available and where you’ll find me. I type much faster than I write and the organized file hierarchy I keep on my notebook and smartphone means that once the notes are taken and filed, they will never be lost. There have been many times I’ve opened conference notes when visiting a client, used them in quotes for service, or sourced them for articles.

Visit Recommended Websites as they are Discussed.
I use Sprint mobile broadband on both my smartphone and laptop to always be on the Internet. Not can I keep in touch with my clients from moment to moment, but moderators and speakers often refer to URLS of potential benefit to our search engine marketing clients.  When a speaker discusses a particular URL I visit the site and bookmark it in in on the spot if I think it might be of good use later. In the past when I did not immediately visit and bookmark a recommended URL I did not always follow through. Such is the nature of any Internet marketing business-the information flies by at blazing speed. I’ve learned that there is rarely a “check out the website later when I have time.”

Don’t Spend Hours Talking to Everyone You Meet
Keep encounters with new contacts respectfully brief. The folks you’ve never met who are potentially important to your business probably don’t want to spend a whole lot of time with you @ first encounter anyway.

I like people a lot and it does not matter to me whether they are famous or obscure. Everyone has a story and something to learn from. However at a conference like SES there are SO many interesting people of all stripes to meet. It’s important to move along and not allow yourself to get sucked into long conversations of little benefit just because the person is interesting. Don’t attempt to monopolize anyone else inappropriately. Don’t expect anyone to spend tons of time with you.

Organize Business Cards.
I only ask for or offer people I meet a business card if there is a reason. Tonight as I checked into the NYC Hilton, I practically stumbled across Neil Patel, CTO of ACS who is a well know speaker on link baiting and I saw him speak at SES Chicago and was struck by what an intelligent and humble guy he his. I asked him if he would consider a video interview later in the week and he said “sure.” I almost walked away without asking for a way to get in touch with him. THAT’S what business cards are for.

Learn Things to Teach your Clients
No matter what industry you’re in your clients and customers hire you for your unique ability to add value to a product or service they want or need to purchase. Approach each opportunity you have, to further yourself in your industry, as an opportunity to bring relevant information back to your clients. Use the information you learn during seminars to enhance your ability to serve your clients. Use conference materials as source material for article writing, blogging, newsletters, and email lists.

Don’t Be a Dork
So far as my job, SEO is an exciting field and the people so incredible interesting. Because there are actually rock star SEO practitioners that surround this whole scene, I’m tempted to gush and act silly…like I was on a first date or something. Regardless of your profession the temptation to either act out or feel inferior at trade shows is easy to fall into. Get over it.

No Matter What your Trade
Whether you’re an attorney at a family law conference, an electronics manufacturer at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, or at a gift sellers convention in Iowa the whole idea of a tradeshow is to meet others in your industry to network and learn.  By very nature there are always going to be those more or less accomplished than you in your field attending-if not why would you bother going to the conference in the first place!  Share what you know. Learn from those more advanced. Get inspired. Don’t boast. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t be a dork.

As for our situation, AIMCLEAR has amazing clients ranging from small/medium size business, to huge corporations. When we attend trade shows we feel good about our business since we’ve been helping companies marketing on the Internet since 1995 in one form or another to good results. At the same time it’s humbling to be among the true pioneers of the search marketing industry. We intend to use our experience here to enhance our value to the clients we are fortunate enough to serve.

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