Because I'm preparing for this week's NRWA Conference in Charleston, I wanted to share with you a couple of tips for using trade shows to build your resume writing business. For most resume writers, you can work one of two kinds of "trade shows" -- job fairs and association meetings.
If you've written a book that other resume writers might purchase (or encourage their clients to buy), association meetings (especially those within the resume writing industry) can be a good way to gain visibility and sell books.
If you're looking to sell your career services (resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, membership programs, etc.) then you can participate in job fairs OR target association meetings or conferences where your "ideal client" hangs out (i.e., a technology conference if you work with IT professionals).
Whether working a job fair or a trade association meeting, attendees are looking for new ideas and connections. It's one of the few times when people are receptive to actually being sold to in person. If you can leverage this opportunity to put your brand out there and communicate what you have to offer, it can boost your resume writing business in unimaginable ways. You can walk away with powerful connections, immense goodwill, more credibility, more brand recognition and, often, actual orders.
Here are a few different ways you can leverage trade shows.
The most basic way to leverage trade shows is through networking. This is especially useful at job fairs. Build in some time to get around -- wander from booth to booth and introduce yourself. Let others know how you can help them and look for new strategic partnerships. I've made some great connections with recruiters during job fairs.
And, of course, if you are offering resume critique services at a job fair or association event, you want to connect with as many jobseekers as possible. Limit your time with each individual to five minutes (ideally, two minutes or less) -- be prepared with handouts to give them some additional information and your contact details.
Host a Side Event
A much more powerful way to leverage a job fair or association conference is to host a side event. Book a conference room in the same hotel or in an adjacent restaurant or large bar. Then market the event through the trade show's Twitter hashtag, through flyering, through Meetup and through your own email list.
You might offer a short workshop on "Getting the Job" or "LinkedIn for Jobseekers." If you're an author, do an event where you speak for 20-30 minutes on your topic and have books available for purchase.
By taking this kind of leadership position, you'll drastically increase your own brand and credibility. You'll also make important connections. Instead of seeking connections, people will come and connect with you.
Be a Speaker
Related to tip number two -- you can build a lot of credibility and brand awareness by getting on stage. Talk to the event organizer early on about the possibility of speaking at the event as early as possible. Make sure you have a good amount of credibility and speaking experience built up before approaching large conference organizers. I recommend the "Resume Writer's Guide to Profiting From Speaking: How to Use Teleseminars, Webinars, Workshops, and Seminars to Attract New Clients and Generate Revenue." Make sure your talk isn't too self-promotional though -- focus on delivering great value to your session attendees.
Should You Get Your Own Booth?
If you're serious about building your brand, you should absolutely get a booth. If you are critiquing resumes at a job fair, you may be offered a discounted or free booth. (You may be able to negotiate this if you are approaching an association event planner -- because a booth at a trade show can run anywhere from $250 to several thousand dollars.) The investment might be worthwhile because having a booth means literally two days of having business come up to you and listen to your sales pitch.
If you're attending the NRWA conference in Charleston, I hope to talk to you! Come and see me speak or check out my booth!