Autumn is always a crazy time of year. When summer ends and kids go back to school, the vast majority of people get back to work with a focus on getting specific things done before the end of the year. Often, those specific things include a brand redesign, a website redesign, or website improvements and feature additions to start the year off strong. Business is always busy and booming in the fall, and this year it was even crazier than normal because of all the live events we attended or spoke at.
I LOVE live events.
In addition to attending a girls trip to Vegas, a wedding, a music festival, a breast cancer walk, several concerts, and a road trip through Death Valley, this fall I:
- Traveled to Austin to speak at the Freelance Conference about my freelancing journey
- Was lead organizer for WordCamp Sacramento and welcomed 500 people to the event
- Spoke at the International Food Blogger Conference on SEO for Food Bloggers
- Was a host at CaboPress, a business mastermind event
- Co-hosted the monthly Sacramento WordPress Meetup
- Lead a two hour workshop on branding at WordCamp Seattle
- Attended WordCamp US in Nashville and got to relax as an attendee only
The Benefit Of Live Events
Live events have been a catalyst for many amazing opportunities, several of my most treasured friendships, a steady stream of new business, a brand growth. While you can connect with others online through social media, membership sites, and other digital communities, there is nothing quite like having a shared experience with someone face to face in an intimate setting. Sitting down with another person for a meal or cocktails, grabbing a quiet moment for a personal conversation, or sharing in a fun memory solidifies the connection and accelerates the depth of the relationship.
I like to look for events that will inspired personal and professional growth. I have learned an incredible amount of information and strategies that have helped grow my brand and business, discovered tools and resources that have improved my work and streamlined my business, and gained recommendations to valuable service providers, vendors, and experts that have made a big difference in my success.
The ROI Of Live Events
There are two important things to understand about the ROI of any live event:
1. You get out of an event what you want to.
If you walk into the event believing you already know everything, you’re not going to be open to learning much. Likewise, if you walk into a session believing you’re already an expert, you’re going to miss the opportunity to learn.
Every time I attend an event, I do with with high expectations and no attachments. I expect to have an awesome experience, but am not tied to that experience being anything specific so I remain open to what the event brings.
- I attend sessions I know nothing about to expand my knowledge base — and while I may not walk away an expert, I now know something I didn’t before and if ti ever comes up, I won’t have to start from ground zero.
- I attend sessions about the exact same things I speak about to see how other people teach it and talk about it, and to see how I can improve my talks.
- I attend sessions on areas that most would consider me already an expert in, but every time without fail, I learn something new and benefit greatly from a fresh perspective and a different approach.
- I make an effort to introduce my self to new people in the hallways, at lunch, or at the party.
2. You get out of an event what you put into it.
If you go to an event, but sit behind your computer the entire time, spend half the event on your phone, stand off to the side alone, skip the party, or ditch out on the catered meals, you’re sabotaging your own experience and drastically limiting your opportunities to meet new people, make new connections, and create new opportunities.
Now, I do understand that not all events are going to have sessions you want to attend and sometimes the schedule may leave you scratching your head. When that happens I shift my approach and mindset:
- I make an extra effort to introduce myself to new people in the hallways, at lunch, around the coffee and snack tables, or at the party.
- I spend more time with those I know, chatting in the hallway track, to deepen and strengthen those relationships.
- I go to sessions, but focus on the time before and after the session to introduce myself and chat up those sitting next to me, around me, or at my table.
All of the events I attended this fall have resulted in new connections and relationships, new partnerships, new speaking opportunities, and new business.
Cost Of Live Events
Yes, there are expenses that go along with attending live events, but that’s the easy part that you have total control over. Attending live events doesn’t always mean a plane ride and hotel stay. It also doesn’t mean that you have to purchase an expensive event ticket. Some of the local networking events I attend do have a higher price point, but most have a nominal fee or are free!
The awesome thing to remember is that live events happen all the time in your own backyard, right in your own city, or in a city nearby. Local networking events, meetups, seminars, conferences, and workshops are a great way to get out from behind your computer, meet new people, expand your network, strengthen existing relationships, gain brand visibility, and learn new things.
- If budget is tight, start with the free meetups. Then add one paid networking experience each month. Then as your budget allows, add other networking opportunities and events to your schedule.
- For big conferences where travel is a must, start with one per year and choose a different one each year. Then as your income grows you can always add more events.
Just be careful of one thing: spending your hard-earned cash on a business event that’s really an excuse to hang out with your friends.
Every event needs to provide a tangible result that moves your business forward and makes the investment worth it. The results might be new business or sales, connecting with potential subcontractors or employees, finding new strategic partners or affiliate partners, or simply building your list. Whatever your reason might be, when you invest in a live event, be sure to track your costs and the ROI to make sure it actually provides a tangible benefit and return on investment.
Make a Commitment And Show Up
As we near the end of the year, my challenge to you is to get out from behind your computer, get off social media, and get yourself to a live event.
- Meetup.com is a great place to start your search for networking groups, paid events, and free meetups. In fact, if you’re interested in WordPress, there are currently 1,317 WordPress meetups throughout the world.
- Visit WordCamp Central to learn all about WordCamps (low-cost WordPress conferences) and see where the closest one to you is happening.
- Hit up Google! Simply search for your industry or focus with the word conference, event, or workshop, and see what shows up.
- Ask your friends and colleagues what events they go to and which are their favorites, and as for their recommendations on what events you should go to.
- Find out what events your clients go to — it’s pretty awesome to invest in an event where you’ll be surrounded by tons of your ideal clients.
Here’s the thing: you can’t just find and event and bookmark it. You need to make a commitment to actually go.
Register or buy a ticket, put it on your calendar, and show up. Eighty percent of the opportunities in life are a result of simply showing up. If this is hard for you, get a friend to sign up, register, or buy a ticket as an accountability partner and make plans to go together.
Investing in and attending live events has dramatically impacted the trajectory and momentum of my business and greatly enriched my personal life and it can do the same for you — and who knows, maybe we’ll even see each other at an event soon!