In order to grow your business in the federal market you don’t necessarily need to only be known within your federal network, it also works in your best interest to expand your environment. By now you probably have figured out that the sequestration has forced the federal government to cancel a large portion of conferences and networking events. Businesses have strategized and either created events their selves or moved on to other networking events outside of the federal sector. Many businesses in this case have suffered due to the lack of communication.

Running a business behind a desk and laptop is the easy part but when it comes to getting out of the office and networking there is a lack of face to face communication due to many reasons such as, intimidation, shyness, unsure how to meet new people, not believing attendance can be an advantage to you. Attending conferences is a great way to meet new people in and outside of your network. By showing up it provides an opportunity for others to get to know who you really are and what you sell, it can also open doors for new leads and possibilities so when you don’t show up your business loses out. The first step in attending conferences are:

Create a signature- have something that defines who your business is and accentuate on that. For example, a specific color, title, or name. Connect to 3 to 5 people that are solid- You can collect or give out hundreds of business cards at events but what do they really mean? The cards you collect are from businesses that are doing the same thing that you are doing…networking. Of the people that you meet try and connect with three to five solid people. Those individuals will normally have great referrals or turn out to be your best clients. So don’t attend the events to try and obtain all of the business cards you can get really put some time in and network.

Have something to offer- Just passing out business cards and saying hello doesn’t always work. Have a special or an offer that is appealing to others. You miss out on a lot of clients who need your product or service but money may be tight, they may feel it is not the right time, etc. Make your packages more appealing, for example this summer is a great time for special offers.

Be clear on what types of people you want to meet- Just wanting to meet everybody may not be a great idea. You want to map out what types of people you want to meet. Sure you may receive a client from one of the events and that client may turn out to be the client from hell, trust me I know I have met a few. Not only does the client or referral have to want to do business with you, but you also have a choice in the matter as well. So try and ask meaningful questions other than, “What do you do?”, “Where are you located?” to sift through your connections.

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