GAINING EXPOSURE: Making the most of your workshops and speaking gigs

Dare I say that there is an upside to the economic downturn? Yes.
Any professional out ‘n’ about knows there is a new information sharing environment that exists as a result of the new economy. Professional development seminars, industry-specific discussion panels, mixers, luncheons – the list goes on. There is an overabundance of information for the person willing to spend a bit of time learning something new – often at no cost, making attending these events very attractive.
For those of us searching to learn more, protect our business and increase sales, these events are an opportunity to do so. More importantly, for the sake of this blog anyhow, it’s an opportunity for businesses to gain added exposure.
If you are a business looking to maintain and grow your market share, please pay attention. Take advantage of speaking opportunities. Your audience is searching for advice (The kind of advice that cannot be gained from Internet searches alone.), personal interaction and relationships with businesses they trust. There is no better way to achieve these goals than to be the “expert” providing the information to them.
“How do I find a platform or venue to give a presentation?” you ask? Here are a handful of ideas you can start with.
  • Host a workshop at your office. Don’t have space? Find a friendly business who will host a workshop at their location for you.
  • Contact your local chamber of commerce and offer your presentation for free to their members. Be sure to showcase how your presentation can serve as a value-added member resource to a majority of the chamber’s members.
  • If you belong to a trade or professional association, contact their respective representatives and ask if you can host a workshop for members.
  • Partner with one to two other like-minded businesses that offer similar, but non-competitive, services to yours and host a joint workshop or presentation for all combined colleagues, clients, vendors and contacts you share.
Critical note: Make certain your workshops are educational and not used as a sales platform for your company. If you provide an educational opportunity to people, they will better trust your expertise, respect you as a professional and will connect with you to do business. Rest assured.
“I have a place and a time. Now how do I get butts in seats?” you ask? Some more helpful tips.
  • Announce your upcoming workshop/speaking engagement to your contacts, whether by e-mail, e-newsletter or in person. Do it several times.
  • If you’re partnering with a business or organization, be certain they are announcing the event to their lists. Also, offer to submit a short written description or verbal announcement during events taking place before your presentation date.
  • Write a press release and send out to news outlets. Many news outlets regularly publish business calendars. Don’t forget to submit to non-traditional outlets such as local professionals who host their own highly-visible Web calendars, like-minded trade/professional organizations as well as those you belong to and to sites such as Craigslist.
  • Blog about your upcoming event.
  • Post event details your Web site and any social networking profile you have, such as Facebook.
  • Use Twitter to announce your event and post a link to your blog or Facebook within your “Tweet” to ensure readers can get event details and how to RSVP their attendance.
Workshops and speaking gigs are a great place to start when you’re looking for new contacts to generate new business. It is a powerful business growth tool – and a low-cost one at that.
Amber Stidham is the Director of Strategic Planning for Imagine Marketing.
Contact Amber at astidham@imnv.com
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