Last week I was a featured speaker at the Indiana Small Business Fair. I don’t normally do trade shows, so this was a bit of a new experience for me, and I learned a lot of valuable lessons in the process. Here’s what I learned:

isbf-speech1. Candy on the table is a surprisingly powerful draw, but you may end up taking some home.

We took one too many bags of Hershey’s Kisses and ended up bringing it home with us. As a self-professed chocoholic, I have had to ask Leo to hide the remaining sweets, to avoid having to roll myself to my next speaking engagement.

2. The week following the event will inevitably be packed full of meetings.

It seemed to me that people attended the Indiana Small Business Fair for one of three reasons: to network for their business, to look for a job, and to learn about how to start a business. I don’t often network locally, since my client base tends to be international, but this week, I’m spending an inordinate amount of time running out to meetings with interesting and cool people I met at the event, to talk about their businesses and how Business in Blue Jeans can help, to discuss how we can add them to our “Denim Dream Team,” and to just chat and get to know each other. I love connecting this way, but I have to confess that I’m already looking forward to next week, when I have some time to get some work done.

3. People do weird things after an event like this.

I’ve gotten a lot of marketing materials sent to my inbox since the event and it appears to be from people who simply went to the event, picked up a ton of business cards, and then, without meeting anyone, went home and sent out a blanket e-mail to everyone. Now, to me, that’s weird. This kind of marketing doesn’t make sense to me. Without talking to people or taking the time to learn about their businesses, it’s unlikely that you know if those people really are your target market. I can tell you that I am definitely not in the target market for many of these folks, and their marketing efforts aren’t just unsuccessful at getting my business, these tactics actually make them look bad.

4. When you do a speaking gig and people like it, others will follow.

I’m currently in discussions to speak at the Simply WOW Expo and the National Black MBA Association meeting, as well as a few others. This makes me endlessly happy, because I absolutely love public speaking.

5. At events like this, you will meet some amazing people.

And I did. This was a fun event for me, and I loved meeting several of my local e-zine subscribers in person and getting to chat with the wonderful business owners in Indianapolis. Kudos to the organizers!

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