Bonus Edition: Conference Prep
So you have your first Official Showcase coming up! That’s fantastic! But maybe you’ve started to panic and worry about all the things you need to do to get ready. “I don’t have a team, how am I supposed to do this alone?” or “There are so many important people coming, what do I do?!”. If this is your first time having a showcase or even your first time just going to a conference it can seem daunting. We want to help. Here are some helpful tips on how to prepare for a conference.
*Helpful Tip #1* - Don’t Trust Your Memory
Carry a fine tipped sharpie marker with you at all times. When people hand you their business card, write down what you talked about and whether or not you gave them a CD. It’s a great way to remember people later and is essential for the follow up. The fine tipped markers can still write on glossy cards!
*Helpful Tip #2* - Prepare and Stay Organized
Make the delegate list into a spreadsheet for yourself ahead of the conference. Put your notes in it each day at the conference that include who you talked to and what you talked about, and whether you need to follow up.
*Helpful Tip #3* - It’s All About The Relationships
Be yourself, and forget the hard sell. While the environment can be quite competitive, and you should be prepared, you ultimately have to just let your art speak for itself. It’s all about timing and building relationships.
Preparing Your Booth
Every regional contact conference in Canada will have an exhibitor room, or contact room - which is sort of like a trade show. If you are attending an event that doesn’t have booths, you can save this information for another day.
You should put some thought into your booth ahead of time. Whether you are doing a 5 minute pitch or have an official showcase, your booth should represent your show. Here are some things to think about:
Marketing materials: Your table should have materials on it that people can take with them. This should include CDs, one-sheets, and business cards.
Your booth = your brand. Does it represent YOU?
Think about ways to have levels on your booth. If everything lays flat, it’s not eye catching and people will just walk right by.
You can spend as much or a little money on your set up as you want. Get creative! A simple, concise booth set up can very effective.
Review The Delegates List
Think about who will be there and who you’d like to meet.
Talking points: Have you performed in their community before?
Practise your elevator pitch - a 1 or 2 sentence description of your sound/performance. Say it out loud. Say it over and over.
What else do you offer besides your show? Workshops, school performances etc.
Know What Questions To Ask
When do they present? When do they book? How many out of province acts do they usually book?
For example: “Does your concert series run Sept - April?” or "When do you start booking the 20/21 season?"
What is your touring availability next year? How much does your show cost?
Some people will want to talk about money and dates right away. Don’t wait for the follow up email that may never come. Have your price points ready, or at least a general idea of how much a one off would cost vs 3-5 shows in a block booking. Even knowing when you are not available is helpful. Think about the weather. Do you want to be touring in Northern Alberta in February? Or maybe October and April are more ideal for you.
Take So Many Notes
If your notes end up being 8 pages of names and dates and dollar signs in a notebook - that’s OK. But make sure to go through it soon and make sense of your scribbling. Your best bet it is to take some time each morning to put your notes into your spreadsheet - it will prevent you from losing any important notes and help prepare you for the day ahead.
Following these tips can help you get the most out of a conference and we hope they’ve been worthwhile. They are general in nature and you should be able to apply them to what you do. But if you still have questions or are interested in developing a specific plan I'm available for consultations and would love to chat with you.