Marketing Yourself at Events and Tradeshows: Start With “Why”

Marketing Yourself at Events and Tradeshows: Start With “Why”

Having recently attended Scaling New Heights 2018 in Atlanta, and gearing up for QuickBooks® Connect, I was asked to pull together an article offering tips for marketing yourself at events and trade shows. As someone who has attended many different types of events, I am inclined to share what takeaways I’ve observed in preparing for these events. 

In addition to my own experiences, I’ve also received feedback from others in the accounting community who have been quite generous with their advice on various aspects of the event marketing process. Here are some guidelines for properly marketing yourself at an event.

Begin with why you are going. As with any worthwhile endeavor, I have found that determining your reasons for attending a certain event should also determine your approachPersonally, I attend these types of events for many reasons, including networking, education and learning about technology – which means I have to be intentional in prioritizing these often competing interests. I also have to focus on no more than two to three of these areas in order to make the most of my time, but more on that process later. Here are some additional insights from the accounting community:

“You should have specific goals before attending a conference," says Veronica Wasek, CEO and founder of VM Wasek. “What do you want to learn and what kind of relationships do you want to build?”

Ernest Cook, principal data engineer with Better Idea Group, stated: “Creating a vision or why statement should make it easier to organize all of your activities at an upcoming event.”

He asks a basic question: "Why are you attending?" Is it to do any or all of the following?

  • Expand your personal knowledge.
  • Expand your network of "go to people" for answers.
  • Keep up to date on vendors technology that impacts you.
  • Actively look for people who will create referrals for your business.

"Each of those is a very real objective and each requires a different approach," he said.

Just after this year’s Scaling New Heights, Tus Tres Maestras virtual training firm Founder Carmen Manrique shared her roadmap for conference preparation and her "why" to attend:

According to Carmen, members of the accounting and bookkeeping community should attend these types of transformative conferences to:

  • network with people;
  • observe hands-on demonstrations of concepts you can replicate later on;
  • gain exposure to new and fresh technology;
  • hear inspiring keynote presentations;
  • become friends with your vendors and suppliers – they are your greatest allies, after all; and
  • gain opportunities to learn from top experts in the industry.

Some additional suggestions and key takeaways. Ultimately, the idea is to have fun; after all, you’re there to learn and meet new people! In other words, just enjoy the experience. For me, my experience is about getting together with people in person I’ve only had the chance to interact with online. I truly feel that I’ve found “my tribe” with each event I attend.

Look for my next article on marketing yourself at trade shows and conferences: "How to Prepare."