I’ve met a good chunk of my colleagues in the marketing world while speaking at or attending conferences. I’ve found most conference speakers are not only highly educated about their subject matter, they also are usually highly motivated at make for some great friends.
This year, I had the opportunity to speak at four conferences (which is still peanuts to many), which allowed me to fully grasp the power conference speaking can give you, no matter your expertise or industry.
Here are some of the ways conferences can help you grow your company branding and exposure.
Exposure and Networking
This is the most obvious benefit to speaking at conferences: the ability to network with others in your industry and even potential clients. Most events offer a plethora of networking events or downtime to socialize with others you meet in sessions. Being a speaker at a conference not only gives you access to these events, it also allows you more exposure than a regular attendee, as your badge will say SPEAKER on it. This usually leads to more people seeking you out for advice or using your badge as a conversation starter, which can lead to business opportunities.
Additionally, many of the larger conferences have speakers’ lounges, which lead to even more time to spend with other highly qualified professionals in your industry. It’s usually a quieter atmosphere, and the shared experience of speaking at the conference makes for an easy icebreaker.
One of my colleagues told me at Pubcon Las Vegas this year that he loves speaking because of the feedback he receives, both during his session and in feedback surveys. While the idea of constantly receiving feedback, often live and from your audience, can sound intimidating, it gives you a unique view into what your target audience is looking to learn more about.
For instance, if your presentation is about local SEO and you keep receiving questions about Yelp, it might be worth considering offering Yelp consultation to your agency’s offerings. Or, you could write an e-book on Yelp “SEO” that could help small business owners follow the review site’s best practices to increase visibility.
Audience questions can also bring up holes in your presentation, especially if it’s one you are going to give at more than one conference. If you are repeatedly asked about the same slide or portion of your session, it likely means it wasn’t clear and needs to be revised.
This is extremely helpful because we are often too close to our own work and assume listeners know what we are talking about, so we gloss over it. Because most conferences cater to all levels, it’s likely worth it to explain key terms or examples to the audience briefly in a slide, since the room usually has a few beginners. Getting this type of feedback about what content to include (or even cut) can help improve it over time.
Thought Leaders Equal a More Reputable Company
Many people I’ve met while they were speaking at conferences lead with their own name and expertise, instead of their company. This means that even though they may work for a well-known player in the industry, they’ve done an excellent job at branding themselves as an expert. While this is obviously extremely beneficial to the speaker (as it provides both job security AND exposure), it is also beneficial for their employer.
At conference trade shows, I’ve overheard many conversations where a company’s name is recognizable simply because the attendee had heard of someone who worked there. In order industry, people like Jim Boykin, Scott Monty, or Kris Jones have made a name for themselves and their organizations have been brought alongside them in the process.
That being said, it’s important for organizations to recognize the power that conference speaking can have for both their own credibility and their employees. It not only offers employees a chance to represent their company at networking events, it also allows them to become better speakers and topic experts. Growing thought leaders within your organization will help grow your influence and cement your hold within your industry.
What benefits have you seen from speaking at conferences?
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