I was having lunch with a friend who owns a landscape design company, Blue Iris Designs. She offers a unique service that combines the benefits of feng shui within your landscape. She was asking me about the benefits of hosting a workshop. When after all was said and done, it wasn’t going to earn her a viable income . With all the time she was planning to invest, her question to me was “Is it worth it to hold a workshop?”

I offered her the same sage advice that I received from Marcia McGilley in the Small Business Development Center and added my own two-cents. There are multiple benefits to speaking at a workshop.

First, you get to touch your database multiple times with invitations, announcements, reminders and follow up notes. This puts your brand on the forefront of your customer’s minds and gets them thinking about hiring you again or referring you to others. This is great for developing loyal customers.

Second, you can submit a press release to your local paper and online websites. You can write it yourself or hire a professional to discuss the intrinsic value you are prepared to offer the audience.

Third, you can use your notes to create an article on your website, blog or newsletter. You can submit this article to local publication and on social networking sites. It’s a good idea to build a relationship with the media because they are always on the lookout for stories. Your story may be the next hot thing to hit the presses.

Fourth, if you record the event, you’ll have a CD to sell. You can sell these at future presentations or use them to create passive income on your website.

Fifth, if you video tape the event, you’ll have a video to sell. Again, this is another revenue stream you didn’t have before.

Sixth, after several presentations, you can gather all those articles and contain them into your first e-book. With some creativity and nurturing, these notes will serve as the backbone for your chapters. There are several publications to help you get an ISBN number and actually create a hard-bound book. A book signing is an incredible event to invite people to, and again, put your brand on people’s minds.

Seventh, those who attend the workshop are most likely your target market and qualified customers. With a little followup, those in the audience can easily become your next client.

The eighth benefit to speaking at a workshop is that you become the industry expert whom people call on, refer to and talk about. You set yourself apart from others in your industry and create more visibility for marketing. Your updated blogs add to your search engine optimization.

And as a bonus, by preparing for the workshop, your research keeps you on top of industry changes and you stay relevant.

When you first start out, find a location where you don’t have to pay a fee. There are many local businesses who are eager to have new faces in their establishment and they are happy to work with you. Establish a relationship with the manager at local coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, conference centers, or even hold them at your own office. Consider aligning with another company who has a great meeting space. Ask them to invite people and you’ll increase your audience size.

Make sure you spend just as much time inviting people to attend as you do preparing the materials and you’ll discover that speaking at workshops are an effective and beneficial way to grow and market your business while creating new streams of income.