Do you email more than you talk on the phone? Most people communicate via social networks or email about as much or more than they speak face-to-face, according to a study conducted by the University of Michigan. These same social tendencies translate to the workplace as well.

But are businesses missing out on an opportunity to build trust and a stronger online presence through in-person events and face-to-face interactions?

Online presence expands beyond the company website, and includes the interactions and conversations a business contributes to online. Author Susan Miller summarizes: “A face-to-face meeting can allow you to build a trusted relationship with a prospective client in a way that an email cannot.”

Events like trade shows, industry conferences and community outreach programs all provide excellent ways of meeting and connecting with people. Whether you’re looking to network with others in your industry or are looking to generate leads and earn new customers, your physical presence can be a great tool for boosting your digital presence as well.

Not sure how to make the most of your presence in the real world? Here are some tips on how to build your online presence with your physical presence, whether hosting or attending an event.

Planning and attending events

- Have a plan: And make sure your plan has a beginning, middle and end. When you know what you need to achieve at every stage, it’s easy to make your day go off without a hitch. Set goals along the way to ensure success; don’t let bad planning be the cause of a bad event!
- Be different: Designate a “key differentiator” for your event that is specific and targeted. We live in a world full of busy people. What makes your event worth someone’s time? Highlight what makes you and your event special.
- Don’t lose your audience: In order to plan and execute a successful event, it is important to first know who you are speaking to. Try to combine your targeted message with your audience’s interests and personality.

Promotion of your event

- Promote both online and offline: Not everyone is online. Sometimes the perfect audience for a sales opportunity are those that have not yet embraced the world of online business. Make sure your marketing efforts go beyond digital to reach your whole audience.
- Engage with those who engage with you: Utilize networks you have already established online and make use of your existing channels. It’s easy to engage with your network online and reach those who are already interested in you.
- Look beyond the obvious: Reach out to the networks you may not have a connection with. Grow your connections and your audience reach! Show this new audience how they too may benefit from your event.

At your event
- Seeing is believing: Use face-to-face time to build trust and engagement. This time allows you to show personality and provide potential customers with an individualized experience with your business. In-person interactions are not to be undervalued!
- The free factor: Play up the value of your event with incentives. Mix in competitions to build engagement (“Like us for a chance to win!”) or simply offer up something of value to all guests as a bonus for coming to the event (Free e-book and consultation for all attendees!).
- The power of the “soft” sales pitch: Don’t hit your guests with a hard sell. Regardless of what type of business you have, you want to make sure the event is more conversational and informative than sales pitchy. Be friendly, helpful, and build interest through information.

Post-event follow-up

- Walk away with purpose: Make sure guests leave with an idea of what comes next or how they can reach you - never leave them hanging. Provide business cards, pamphlets, or other materials with contact information so they know how to find you. Have them Like and follow you on social networks, visit your website, etc.
- Out of sight, out of mind: From registration, you should have collected all attendee information. Make sure to follow up via email or through social channels to make sure you stay relevant and top of mind, and to maintain these new relationships.
- Reflect, retain, repeat: Reflect on how the event went. What were your goals vs. what transpired? Retain and continue to connect with people or companies you met. If successful, continue to engage in face-to-face encounters and events in order to make your presence known. Word of mouth, whether digital or verbal, is very effective.

A well-planned and executed event can do wonders for your business, both online and offline. Face-to-face, personal interactions with your brand provide opportunities to connect with new audiences and add personality to your business.

Use these opportunities to boost your online presence, sending attendees to your website, encouraging them to Like and follow your social networks, and providing many new ways to connect with and engage potential customers.

Propel Marketing is an online marketing company providing digital solutions to local small- and medium-sized businesses: www.propelmarketing.com.