Your handshake game may be a little rusty, but now is the time to brush up on your meet-and-greet skills. The in-person conference circuit is heating up, and business professionals are eager to reconnect at events specific to their industry. To make the most of your conference attendance, you need to have a strategy.
While your company may be footing the bill for the expenses, business travel is a significant investment of your time. If a networking event or conference is on your calendar, use these tips to plan your approach. Instead of awkwardly muddling your way through, you’ll glide into the main hall with confidence and a plan of action.
1. Do Your Homework
Sometimes you’re slated to attend an event that’s new to you. Other times, it’s a conference that’s been on your calendar for ages. No matter your familiarity, treat your attendance like an assignment—because it is.
Despite their reputation for expense account–funded steak dinners and late-night social events, industry events are indeed work. At least a week before your event, pull up the conference webpage, review the schedule and scan the sponsors listing.
Depending on the type of event, consider how your attendance relates to the key topics and presentations. If you’ve signed up for breakout sessions, familiarize yourself with them and draft a list of questions to ask.
Beyond coming up with questions, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve got your professional house in order. Brush up on your introduction and takeaways. Update your LinkedIn page, personal website and elevator pitch, customizing each for your audience. Upgrade your business card by adding a QR code that gives the recipient more ways to reach you.
2. Devise a Game Plan Before You Hit the Registration Table
If you’re lucky, there might be an event page on LinkedIn where registered attendees can get updates. Check out who’s been interacting with conference information online and check out their profile information. If they’re a prospect, add them to the list of people you want to connect with at the event. Your contact list might read like a scavenger hunt—except this one will yield valuable connections instead of a plastic trophy.
The last time I attended a conference, I noticed that one of my breakout sessions featured a panel on digital strategies. I wanted to make some contacts who could be interested in growth marketing, so I started my research early. Before long, I had the lowdown on who would be there, their background and their interests. This made my outreach efforts after the session much more fruitful.
When going to a panel session, plan to arrive early and snag a seat up front. Say hello and shake hands with members of the panel and the moderator. This is a courteous move, and it will make you more memorable. When it’s time to take questions from the audience, yours will likely get the first nod. Afterward, you’ll feel much more comfortable hanging around to swap insights with the panel’s heavyweights thanks to the connection you established upfront.
3. Follow Up While You Still Have Momentum
If you didn’t learn this back in your early days of dating, it’s all about the follow-up. You wouldn’t want to get ghosted after a great date, and in the same way, you don’t want to be forgotten after a conference. Just as you’ve devised a plan to attend and work the conference floor, plan out your follow-up strategy.
If you’re the analog sort, keep notes on the back of business cards that you collect along the way. Jot down what you talked about, what you committed to and anything unique about the encounter. Anything that will help your note stand out among the bevy of post-event “We met at X conference” emails is something to write down.
If you’re digitally inclined, use a notes app or add this info to the person’s listing in your phone’s saved contacts. Include links, photos, and other meaningful intel to enrich your records. When attending a multi-day event, add to your networking list each night to make the process easy to manage.
After the event ends, aim to follow up within two business days. Conferences can take a lot out of people, both mentally and physically. Give everyone time to rest, but not enough time to forget you. Deliver a sincere thank you for the time spent with your new contacts at the event and pass along any information you promised. By offering value, you’ll forge connections that pay dividends.
Create Relationships That Offer a Mutual Benefit
You already know that business isn’t all about you—it’s about relationships. Seek to understand what your contacts need, even if they aren’t able to articulate it just yet. Discover ways to be helpful, even if it’s not directly related to closing a sale.
The more you can prove to be a trusted resource, the more likely your new contacts will remember you in a positive light. When you offer assistance without strings, your potential clients will keep their doors open for you. And when it’s time to pitch an opportunity, the strategy you’ve developed beforehand will help you get your “yes.”
Seasonal business ventures remain one of the hottest small business trends thanks to the numerous business opportunities and the unique benefits these options offer budding entrepreneurs. After all, seasonal businesses such as those that only operate during the winter season allow small business owners to take extended breaks during their lengthy off-seasons or to spend that time strategizing ways to boost sales the next year. Before you can run a successful seasonal business in the cooler months, however, you need some innovative winter business ideas.
Best Winter Businesses to Start
Starting a successful winter business is an achievable goal. Looking for seasonal business ideas that can operate during the winter months? The following 32 winter business ideas should get you started right.
1. Fake Snow Business
If you live in a location where snow is scarce during the winter season, then selling fake snow can be a great business idea. Fake snow can be in high demand during the festive season among organizations, companies and even families who want to experience a winter wonderland.
2. Gift Wrapping Service
Gift wrapping services remain an in-demand business idea during the holiday season. If you’re a skilled gift wrapper, you can sell your services near any busy shopping area, and you’re almost guaranteed to attract plenty of customers.
3. Christmas Tree Farm
While selling Christmas trees during the winter season might not be an option for every entrepreneur, Christmas tree farming can grow into a successful and profitable winter business idea for small business owners who own land where they can grow evergreen products so they can sell Christmas trees.
4. Towing Service
Towing services are businesses that are in need all year long, but the demand grows during the winter season when road conditions often deteriorate. The owner and operator of a tow truck can still turn a profit if they only operate seasonally.
5. Ventless Fireplace Business
Ventless fireplaces continue to grow in popularity since so many properties no longer are equipped for the traditional variety. A ventless fireplace installation business is a solid business idea, provided the entrepreneur gets proper clearances from the fire department.
6. Winter Sports Equipment Rentals
Many consumers enjoy playing occasional winter sports, but they don’t own the proper equipment for seasonal pastimes. In the right market, an entrepreneur could achieve great success by renting this needed winter sports equipment as a business.
7. Sell Gift Baskets
Unique gift baskets remain at the top of many holiday shoppers’ gift lists, so there’s never been a better time to start a seasonal business selling holiday gift baskets. You could create a variety of gift baskets or focus on a specific niche in the market.
8. Sell Winter Garments
Do you have an eye for fashion? You could start a successful seasonal small business by selling winter garments. You could obtain a seasonal lease and start a local boutique, or you could excel in the online selling marketplace.
9. General Errand Service Business
More people seek assistance with running errands during the winter months than when it’s warm outside, making a general errand service business another profitable idea for entrepreneurs seeking a seasonal venture.
10. Ice Cream Shop
Ice cream is a popular treat all year long, but many ice cream shops only operate during the summer. Opening a wintertime ice cream shop is a great way to fill a gap in the market.
What is a Franchise Business?
The Federal Trade Commission basically says a franchise business model is a system in which an individual or company (the franchisor) licenses the use of its trade name and know-how to another party (the franchisee) in exchange for a fee.
The franchisee typically agrees to abide by the franchisor’s guidelines and operating procedures, which may include using the franchisor’s recipes, marketing materials, and management systems.
The success of a franchise depends on the strength of the franchise system as a whole, so it’s important for franchisors to maintain a great business relationship with their franchisees and offer good support.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Franchising Your BusinessAn existing business can franchise itself in order to expand its operations without having to start from scratch. Before you decide to take this step, let’s take a look at the pros and cons that franchise owners face:
Should You Hire a Franchise Attorney?
When you are buying a franchise, you will be required to sign a franchise agreement. This document is important, as it outlines the terms and conditions of your relationship with the franchisor. It’s a good idea to have an attorney review the agreement before you sign it, to make sure that you understand what you are agreeing to. You should also consult an attorney if you have any questions about the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), which is a document that all franchisors are required to provide to potential franchisees.
How to Franchise a BusinessLet’s have a look at the steps you’ll have to complete during the franchising process:
1. Confirm Your Business Is Ready
The first step is to make sure that your business is ready to be franchised. This means that it should have a franchise business plan, a proven business system or model, a solid track record of success, and a clear brand identity.
2. Protect Intellectual Property
The next step is to protect your intellectual property (IP). This includes the name of your business, its logo, and any trade secrets or proprietary information. You will need to register trademarks and copyrights, and you should also consider getting patent protection for any inventions or processes that are central to your business. Hiring an experienced franchise consultant can be helpful during this process.
3. Create a Financial Disclosure Document
In order to sell franchises legally, all franchisors are required to prepare and provide Franchise Disclosure Documents (FDDs) to potential franchisees. This document must contain certain information about the franchisor and the franchising system, including the franchisor’s business experience, litigation history, and financial statements.
4. Draft a Franchise Agreement Including the Franchise Fee
Franchise agreements are legally binding contracts between the franchisor and the franchisee. It should include provisions about the franchise fees, royalties, and other terms and conditions of the franchise relationship.
5. Prepare an Operations Manual
The franchisor will also need to prepare an operations manual, which outlines the procedures and standards that franchisees must follow. This manual should be comprehensive and easy to understand.
6. Register an FDD
In some states, franchisors are required to register their FDD with the state government. This registration process is typically handled by the franchisor’s attorney.
7. Determine a Sales Strategy
The franchisor will need to develop a sales strategy for selling franchises. This may include exhibiting at trade shows, advertising in industry publications, or hiring a franchise sales company.
What’s the Difference Between Licensing and Franchising?
Licensing and franchising are both ways for businesses to expand their reach. With licensing, a company will allow another business to use its trademarks, copyrights, or patents in order to produce or sell a product. Franchising is similar, but the company will also give the other business permission to use its business model and training manuals. The franchise development process is when a company is looking to expand by franchising. During this process, the company will evaluate potential franchisees and choose the best one to partner with.
Is It Profitable to Franchise Your Business?
The profitability of franchising your business depends on a number of factors, such as the strength of the franchising system, the quality of the franchisees, and the overall demand for the product or service. If you’re thinking about franchising your business, it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced franchise attorney to discuss the potential risks and rewards of offering a franchise opportunity.
How Much Does It Cost to Franchise a Business?
The cost of franchising a business varies depending on the size and scope of the franchising system. The initial investment for a franchise can range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars. In addition to an initial franchise fee, there are ongoing costs of franchising including royalty payments, marketing fees, and compliance costs.
Image: Envato Elements
When it comes to the entrepreneurial journey, learning is the pathway to success. That learning usually comes from failure. No entrepreneur likes to fail, but the fact is most do.
Some very successful entrepreneurs of yesterday and today experienced failure and learned from it on their way to success:
These are just a few examples of famous entrepreneurs who experienced failure on their way to success.
Statistics bear out that failure and setbacks are common on the road to business success. Consider that data collected by the SBA from 1994 to 2019 shows that approximately 68% of new enterprises survived at least two years, and after five years the new business survival rate dropped to less than 50%.
While failures may be a given in the entrepreneurial journey, failure is not fatal. Successful entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes and apply these learnings to the pursuit of their dreams. Some of the most important things these and other entrepreneurs learned from failure in business include how to be resilient, fearless, and adaptable.
What we can learn from failing in business
Failure teaches entrepreneurs the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, which is the definition of resiliency. With every failure, entrepreneurs can learn tenacity and perseverance (think Thomas Edison), two key characteristics of resiliency that are critical for pushing through missteps and fighting the urge to quit.
Research shows how important resiliency is to business success. A study conducted by researchers at Smith School of Business at Queen’s University followed first-time entrepreneurs over a period of two years as they developed, launched, and operated new enterprises. The study found that resilient entrepreneurs viewed business setbacks as puzzles they were fully able to solve and tackle. The researchers noted that entrepreneurs who had this “challenge appraisal” mindset “were more motivated and able to be proactive in identifying ways to improve business processes and outcomes, and to adjust them on the fly.”
The study also found that resilience was a crucial skill that helped entrepreneurs respond to unexpected challenges and that businesses owned by resilient entrepreneurs were more likely to survive than other businesses.
Embarking on a journey of entrepreneurship is a risky proposition and is full of uncertainties that often elevate fear of failure and rejection. These fears can stop aspiring entrepreneurs from facing risk and pursuing their dreams.
A Zapier-commissioned Harris Poll survey found that approximately three in five Americans (61%) have had an idea for starting a business, and about a third (34%) have had more than one. The survey revealed that an overwhelming majority of those people—92%—did not turn their ideas into a business. For 33% of survey respondents, fear of failure is what stopped them from pursuing their dream of entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurs who have failed learn firsthand what Winston Churchill meant when he said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." With this perspective, entrepreneurs no longer allow fear to stop them in their tracks. Instead, they view failure as an opportunity to learn from mistakes and use what they learned from failure in business to move forward despite their fears.
Learning from adversity is what helps take the fear out of failure. Devoting time to analyzing what happened, why it happened, what worked, and what didn’t provides the clarity and insight required to determine what changes need to be made to achieve success. The knowledge and practical experience that comes from failure inspires a fearlessness and confidence in entrepreneurs that drives them to try again and again.
Additionally, the fear of rejection often prevents entrepreneurs from even trying. Jia Jang’s 100 Days of Rejection Therapy challenge truly puts this into perspective. Without even trying, many will simply write something off as impossible because they’re scared of being told “no.” However, Jang's experiment showed that the worst thing that an entrepreneur can do isn’t asking for something they might not get—it’s not trying at all.
Failure is also a lesson in adaptability. When one idea or approach fails, entrepreneurs must be able to adjust to new conditions and be willing to experiment and test new ideas. Embracing change, staying nimble, and pivoting are part of the adaptability that helps entrepreneurs overcome obstacles, learn, and innovate. When industries, markets, and customer preferences change, this adaptability also helps entrepreneurs navigate these new situations and problem-solve to make an idea work or come up with a new one.
Netflix is a good example of a company that adapted its way to success. Founded by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in 1997, the company’s first business model centered on allowing consumers to rent and buy physical DVD movies. In 1999, the company added a subscription offering that allowed people to rent as many DVDs as they wanted, receiving rentals in the mail. The company adapted its business model again in 2007, moving away from physical media to take advantage of new technology that made it possible to stream content instantaneously via the internet.
Sometimes you need to fail in order to succeed
Of the more than 31 million entrepreneurs in the United States, many have experienced failure on their road to success. They have tried and failed, and likely failed a few more times during their journey. These failures are far from fatal. Entrepreneurs who learn the lessons of resiliency, fearlessness, and adaptability from failure in business are able to conquer obstacles and setbacks to achieve success.
Michael Jordan captured this idea well when he said: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Membership is open to businesses and organizations interested in increasing visibility and brand awareness in Westchester County and surrounding areas.