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April 10, 2017
Networking  |  9 min read

How to Get Leads at a Conference

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John Rampton

Conferences are hands down one of the best ways to make connections that will eventually result in new business. At the same time, who really enjoys getting a hard sell from someone you just met? I know that I sure don’t.

But how can you introduce yourself and your company without being too overbearing? Here are a couple of pointers on how you can accomplish that by using automation to collect leads and how to follow up and nurture these new relationships.

Be prepared

Before you can start generating leads at a conference you first need to get yourself prepared.

Selecting the right conference

This is especially true if you’re on a tight budget. Instead of attending as many conferences as possible, narrow down your choices to the conferences where you have the best opportunity to connect with potential clients. Check out the conference's website and social channels to find who’s attending.

Researching your leads

After you’ve found the conferences that you wish to attend, you can start doing some research on your leads so that you know how your business can solve any pain points that you’ve noticed. You should also start following them on social media, sign up for their newsletters, and send them a quick email introducing yourself. And, if possible, ask if they have a chance to squeeze in a brief meet and greet. If not, use tools like Meetup or WooChat to see if they’re attending any other events while in town.

Practicing your pitch

Even if you aren’t able to secure a one-on-one meeting, you should still practice your sales pitch so that you can quickly explain how you could be an asset—remember, they probably won’t have much time to talk to you. However, make sure that you don’t come on too strong. You want to simply have a conversation with your lead by listening to what their needs are and how you could possibly lend a hand.

Dressing to impress

This may not seem like that big of a deal, but when you look like a professional, and not someone who just walked off the street, people are going to take you more seriously. Make sure that your professional attire is clean and pressed so that you can make a solid first impression.

Updating all of your social channels, website, and landing pages

Make sure that all of your contact information is up-to-date so that the customer can learn more about your business and contact you if they have any other questions. Also, don’t forget about updating your website so that it’s responsive - they may be scooping you out on their mobile device while at the conference or when traveling home. And, create landing pages so that you can segment your contact lists and automate your emails.

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Having enough marketing materials/business cards

It’s better to have too many marketing materials and business cards then running out and being empty-handed.

Downloading a business card scanner

This will automatically create new contacts in your phone so that you don’t have to spend the time manually entering phone numbers, email addresses, and social signals. Once you have this information, you can start connecting with the prospective customer.

If you’re an Infusionsoft customer, you can download the Snap App to integrate directly into your CRM and marketing automation campaigns.

Automate your leads

Automation isn’t just useful when it comes to administrative tasks like billing and customer information collection and organization, it can also be used to schedule meetings before, during, or after a conference, as well sending you a reminder regarding an upcoming appointment.

Additionally, marketing automation through a CRM software can be used to manage your leads and build campaigns seamlessly, along with:

  • Sending personalized communications to your new contacts
  • Triggering emails, calls, and other actions based on the behaviors of your contacts
  • Utilizing autoresponders so that you can send personalized emails
  • Assigning a lead source to each visitor to your site
  • Tracking visitor activity
  • Capturing and calculating user behavior metrics 

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Focus on networking, not making money

As mentioned above, a conference isn’t about making money. It’s about networking, connecting with like-minded people, and having fun. As Amanda Abella explains in an article for Due, “Think of networking like dating. Successful daters are those who are just enjoying the company of other people. They aren’t necessarily focused on the end goal of making someone their boyfriend/girlfriend.” 

“When it comes to networking, successful networkers are those that are attending these events in an effort to meet other people,” adds Abella. “They aren’t necessarily focused on making money.” 

When you network properly and build genuine relationships the money will eventually follow. For example, by networking, you may land a speaking gig or discover that you and client have the same interests. In either case, you demonstrated that you’re knowledgeable in your industry and that you’re someone that the client actually wants to get to know. Then, when they could use your services, you’ll be at the top of their list.

Follow up and nurture new relationships

Whether you reached out to a lead prior to the conference or met them during, it’s necessary that you follow up with and nurture these new relationships by:

  • Contacting the lead a few days after meeting them so that they won’t forget about. Even if it’s just telling them that you enjoyed the conversation that you had or asking them to connect on LinkedIn.

  • If you haven’t done so yet, make sure that you’re connected with them on social media so that you can get to know the lead better, as well as interact with them by commenting on their updates or asking questions.

  • Being helpful. Send them a link or an attachment of a piece of content that they may find useful. Regardless if it’s an article, video, white paper, or e-book, this is an easy way to showcase your expertise and thoughtfulness.

  • Staying in touch by congratulating them on a new career accomplishment, wishing them a happy birthday, or asking if they want to meet for coffee if you’re in their neck of the woods. It may not sound like much, but it’s these small things that can build and strengthen relationships. Again, automation can make this easier since you could automatically send them a birthday email, for example.

Final thoughts

Conferences provide a great opportunity for you to connect with potential leads. However, you don’t want just want to attend any old conference. Find conferences that have the best opportunities for you to meet potential customers. After that, don’t be shy in reaching out to these new connections by introducing yourself and providing value. Remember, conferences are all about networking and not making money. Once you realize that you can start on establishing meaningful connections that will eventually convert those leads into sales.

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John Rampton Bio Photo Small.jpeg

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru, and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the payments company Due.

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