One advantage to living in the Metro Atlanta area is getting to attend any type of tradeshow, seminar or conference that interests you. Atlanta is rated a world city that excerts a moderate impact upon global commerce, finance, research, technology, education, media, art, and entertainment. It ranks 38th among world cities and 10th in the nation with a domestic gross product of $320 billion. Atlanta’s economy is considered diverse, with dominant sectors that include logistics, professional and business services, media operations, and information technology.
I recently attended two events: Blacks in Technology Policy Conference and Atlanta Business Expo 2017. Both events had a different scope and both were essential to my professional development in my community and in my industry. I will share how to prepare to attend events from my own personal experiences. My readers can maximize the benfits of networking to connect. I also want to share some tips on social media that I learned at one of the conferences. Tips that you can apply to your business web site or blog that will save you a lot of money and time as well as drive more people to your online brand presence.
The first event was the first ever held Blacks in Technology Policy Conference joined by the tech community and members of the Georgia legislature. It was held at The Atlanta City Hall. The Conference was chaired by Rodney Sampson. Mr Sampson is very well connected in the tech world and is known as a technology entrepreneur, author, and partner at TechSquare Labs. TechSquare Labs is a technology hub, corporate innovation lab, and venture fund that has incubated and supported its portfolio companies in raising over $300 million in venture capital and created over 500 jobs. The event was co-chaired by State Representive Dar’shun Kendrick (www.kendrickforgeorgia.com). Ms. Kendick states the best way to stay up to date on her programs is to sign up for her newsletter on her web site.
The event included speakers, policy presentations to legislators, lunch, recognitions and awards, tech displays from companies like Microsoft, TAG, Moorehouse, TriNet, Tony Byrd (Broadcasting) and more. I was impressed with the many innovations that were developed by tech startups that were participating in a small business support ecosystem: Ascend2020. Ascend2020 is a joint effort from JP MOrgan Chase & Co., Moorehouse College Entrepreneurship Center and TechSquare Labs. The future for blacks in technology looks bright.
How to Prepare to Network (Connect) at Seminars, Tradeshows, Events, and Conferences
Before attending any event decide before hand what you expect to achieve: 1. Looking for vendor services? 2. Looking for new clients? 3. Information in your industry? 4. Investors and crowd funding? 5. Connect with other people in your local industry to stay in the loop?
I always make it a goal to collect at least 10 business cards from people that may be possibilities. Then I make sure to follow up with a call or email within a few days.
- Make your first impression without talking. Your appearance can say a lot about you and can create interest in what you are representing. A smile makes you approachable.
- Create an elevator pitch, that is no longer than one to three sentences. This pitch tells what you do. Memorize a few sentences (your industry talk) to sell your services or products. Ask others to sign up for your email list. Practice.
- Ask a question to show interest in others. Remember, no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Talk to everyone. Remember, the money you seek is in the bank in someone else’s name. You have to get them to sign it over to you. You can not look at a person and know what they have in the bank.
- Don’t forget to bring paper and pencil for note taking and your business cards for contact information. Your business cards should have at least your name, title, current phone number, email address and a website, blog or social media site: LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. If you are attending a government function, your NAIC codes are expected. A link to a portfolio is essential if you are an artist, performing artist, game designer, interior designer , fashion designer, or writer. Use a mobile business card reader to keep up with the business cards you receive. A business card app will help you keep up with the business cards you collect by scanning them and organizing them for you in the contact session of your mobile phone or mobile device. Below is a business card app that allows you to design your business card. You can text it to anyone. You will always have it with you.
- Wear comfortable attractive shoes and bring bottled water. I know this sounds a little different, but take a name badge. Small events do not give them out or they run out of badges. Name badges make it easier for people to approach you. Make sure you take hand sanitizers, tissue, medications, funds for parking and lunch money. Never eat alone at events, bring lunch money if food is not served in order to connect. Never, ever forget to say, Hello.
Resources: Business Card Readers – These are not affiliate accounts.
- CamCardLite – available in Google Play Store. Transport to Excel, Micorsoft Outlook, SugarCrm, Google Contact and Salesforce. 30 days free
- Wantedly People – FREE FOREVER. Transform cards into digital contacts, 10 at a time.
- Haystack – FREE starter kit. Available in Google Play and Itune. Create your own business card and share with others on IOS and Android.
In addition, I attended the Atlanta Small Business Expo on November 9, 2017 at Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, GA. It was huge and focused on educating the attendees in order to sell services and products. Many vendors displayed awesome products and gave away plenty of promotional offers, products, and samples. I collected the cards of vendors whose services and products I thought I might need in the future. I connected with people in my industry and learned a lot. The expo included: speed networking, hundred of vendors, 30 free workshops but no free lunch. However, there was free parking. I estimated that there were hundreds of attendees.
Google was there to present social media tips with two workshops. I attended “How to Grow Your Business On Line” presented by Drew Tonsmeire. Google My Business gives you the tools to update your listings and engage with your customers from your phone, tablet and computer. All for free https://www.google.com/business/ I recommend checking out the resource tab for free instructional videos.
Social Media Tips for Your Business
- Yours and your competitor’s keywords and keyword phases are important. Keywords are words people put in search engines to find information. Keywords are informative words used in an information retrieval system to indicate the content of a document (dictionary)t. Example If a user is looking for information on purchasing a dog, the key words or phrase put into a search engine may be “how to buy a dog”.
- #hashtags are important. Use them on your social media sites as well as in your print marketing materials. Simply put, a hashtag is an easy way for people to categorize, find,and join conversations on a particular topic. For example: the hashtag #cancerFree in twitter search field will bring up all the conversations on “cancer free”.
- This tip is the game changer in my book. Game and app developers use this model to showcase their apps and where youi find their apps on line to play them. If you have a (.com) domain name for your website, I recommend creating the new social media mobile ready site for the (.net) secondary domain name. It’s great for directing traffic to your social media sites. Its perfectly acceptable to have a one page site to represent your business with contact info.
- How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Begginers Guide.
- The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags 2017
- How Do I Use Hashtags in Facebook?
- The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags and Twitter Aug 2017