When looking to expand your business in a local (or even national) market, your company’s knowledge is one of your brand’s best weapons.
It is important to understand that in this world of constant media noise, advertising, social media, etc. you can’t underestimate the opportunity of having a select few key potential clients in a room engaged with your valuable and actionable knowledge.
Most small businesses fear giving away “too much.” The problem with this mentality is that if your potential clients want the knowledge you possess they can find it with just the click of a mouse. What your potential clients are looking for is the ability to place the knowledge into real world activity. Your clients don’t just want the knowledge, they are looking for someone that can provide the knowledge and lead the charge in implementing it.
For many small businesses when looking to share their knowledge, they aspire to gather as many “warm bodies” in a room as possible, focusing on larger scale seminars and round tables. It is my belief that you should position educational opportunities with your clients in a fashion where it is quaint and the opportunity for networking between prospective clients can be conducted. This intimate setting allows your clients to disconnect from the “noise” surrounding their daily activities and unwind while being educated. I recommend hosting an “educational happy hour.” Keep in mind that you do not always have to be the presenter. Many times, sponsoring a happy hour and bringing in an outside resource shows your connectedness to the business community around you. One key ingredient to the educational happy hour is to keep it short – no longer than one hour. The second ingredient is to ensure that there are useful, timely and actionable “take away” items that are provided to your audience. Finally, don’t oversell. By providing education and making a brief thank you statement with a recommendation of good referrals for your business, you are garnering trust with potential clients without your event looking like a bait and switch sales tactic.
Two of my business colleagues, John and Brandon Hebert of Modernize Wealth recently set a perfect example of this. The Heberts held a quaint educational happy hour at a local wine bar, Terroir Wine Pub, placing together a small group of entrepreneurs whose businesses were at varying levels of growth. The evening offered a perfect educational setting that also featured the opportunity for these entrepreneurs to network and see direct benefit from the events of the night. The evening was well thought out and executed. The Heberts brought in two small business attorneys that specialize in entity formation and operating agreements. They discussed the different entity classes and what opportunities each entity type offers an entrepreneur. I noticed that no one looked at their phones during the evening to see what time it was or check text messages. The educational portion of the evening was quick paced and filled with fantastic value in the form of presentation points, questions and answers. Since there were no competing businesses in the room, there was no hostility or unwillingness to open up to ideas being discussed. There was wine, food and great conversation. For the ten entrepreneurs in the room, each garnered great knowledge and future opportunities through the small network setting. I only knew two of the ten entrepreneurs in the room. When I left, I had lunch appointments scheduled with four of the entrepreneurs to discuss collaborative efforts. It was by far the best educational happy hour I had ever been to. I was so impressed with the night that I took to asking the Heberts if I could be a co-sponsor of future events. The great thing about the evening is that for a bit over a few hundred dollars the Heberts garnered new potential clients, new power partners and new referral sources all while providing valuable education to the entrepreneurs that attended.
Be bold and not afraid to share your knowledge.