How to tell if a live event is worth your time

Photo by Jaime Lopes on Unsplash

With every guru spouting “the best event ever,” how do you know what events to attend?

First, you need to figure out WHY you want to go to a live event. For me, usually, my goal is to make connections and ultimately, clients (those are the kind of events we’ll talk about today).

There are some events that I attend mainly for education. In that case, I’m deciding almost solely on who is running the event and if they have knowledge that I don’t.

But what about those client-getting events? How do I decide which ones to attend?

I use 4 main criteria:

You may read “price” and think that I mean I look for events that are in my budget. And while budget is always a factor, I’m actually looking at price for another reason. Most of my one-on-one work is for larger businesses doing 7-figure launches. So if an event costs $250 to attend, it’s likely that most of the attendees are not my target client. Conversely, if the event costs $5,000 to attend, well that means that the attendees are willing to invest in their marketing.

Just one $5,000 event a year (or even every 2 years!) is going to do more for your business than 10 $250 events.

Price will tell you a lot about who is attending an event, but you also want to look at who the event is marketed to. A common mistake is that copywriters attend events for copywriters. Designers attend design events. Photographers attend photography events. If your goal is education, then absolutely an industry event is for you. But, if you’re looking for clients, going into a room with 100 copywriters and 4 clients is going to feel like a cattle call and you won’t be able to get meaningful time with clients.

Last year was the first year I attended AWAI, an event for copywriters. In years past, I’ve never attended for that exact reason. They even put the clients that are there at booths which makes it super difficult to make a connection in the way I want to.

So instead of going to events marketed to you, go to the events marketed to your ideal client. If you’re a writer in the health space, for example… go to the premier events for healthcare businesses to learn marketing. Then, what happens is the prospective clients will learn about marketing and copy strategies (likely, they’ll seem basic to you), and be looking for someone to help them implement. And, oh wow, there just happens to be a copywriter at the bar that night.

There are some people that just run incredible events that I want to be a part of. If you follow someone closely and you see they have an event, often it’s worth it to go. One of these people for me is Brian Kurtz. I will attend just about any event he puts on. Because he automatically attracts amazing people and things just happen for me at those events.

On the other hand, if I attend an event and it’s poorly organized, it’s likely I will never attend an event by that person again. There are too many event organizers who focus on making the most money possible instead of creating the right experience for attendees. If there’s too much stage pitching or no time built in for connections, I won’t be back.

I’ve saved this one for last. It’s my “targeted strike” strategy. In rare circumstances, I’ll ignore the first three rules if I know someone is speaking at an event that I want to connect with. Then I’ll make it my mission to find a way to get together with them.

You know that game, 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon? In online marketing especially, I’ve found just about everyone is only one or two connections away. So if I want to meet someone and I see they’re coming to an event nearby, I’ll find those connections, get an intro, and reach out beforehand to set up dinner or make sure we connect.

And one more factor to think about…

If you’re not in the US, obviously there’s the added factor of location and logistics. I live on the East Coast, so it’s pretty simple for me to fly to just about anywhere in the country fairly quickly.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to release more about how to get clients, specifically from live events including how to make a “live event planner” for the year and the spreadsheet I use after the event to make sure I make lasting connections with the people I meet.

You can get it by joining my waitlist here.

Been a direct response copywriter since 7th grade when I wrote a 30-page sales letter asking my crush to the dance. freelancecoop.org