Most working professionals (entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, from any industry) attend at least one conference annually. From business owners to teachers to accountants—there is a conference for everyone.
Attending a conference can be overwhelming—which breakout session do you choose? Is it a good idea for your company to have a booth? How can you make meaningful connections in just a few hours/days with this group? Rather than toiling over these decisions, writer Lou Dubois from Inc. magazine and a guest writer for HubSpot, John Bonini (marketing director at IMPACT Branding & Design), have some tips and advice for making the most out of a conference (and how to turn the takeaways into real-time solutions for your company).
Before you sign up for a conference, you’re most likely looking into the keynote speakers, networking downtime and other opportunities you will have as an attendee. However, as the actual event approaches, be sure to check online for a list of attendees/exhibitors and print out a copy of the agenda. It’s helpful to make a plan and know what timeframes you’ll be in session, when you’ll be networking, etc. Things may change slightly on site, but at least you’ll be prepared in knowing what sessions are happening and when.
Cover the essentials and be sure to bring plenty of business cards, pens, a notepad and company literature, along with proper attire for each event during the conference. Being prepared ahead of time will allow you more time for networking and conversation.
While you’re there
If you’re attending a conference with colleagues, be sure to split up on site. This will help you to make different/more connections and allow for better knowledge transfer—especially if your team attends different breakout sessions (if applicable). Take notes and ask questions.
Be ready to network—and by network, it doesn’t mean you should be performing your 60-second elevator/introduction pitch every time you meet someone. Instead, try having short, but relevant conversations about the industry, about the speakers, the layout of the event, etc. You may also want to write notes about people you meet on the back of their business cards (this will help you when you follow up with them by phone or email). If they asked you for information about one of your products, including that in your follow up will be very helpful.
If there’s a sponsor or exhibitor you’d like to do business with, make a point to get to know the booth reps and have meaningful conversations. Rather than just picking up a free pen and business card and heading to the next booth, step outside of your comfort zone and make new connections.
If you attended the conference with some of your colleagues, set a post-conference meeting for a day or two after your return. Go through all of your notes, leads, etc. and create an action plan as to how to implement some new things to improve your own business. It’s important that that things you plan to implement as improvements are relevant, realistic and refined.
How do you prepare for a big conference? Is it helpful to plan a route or to leave more free time and be able to adapt to the situation? What tips do you have when following up with potential new clients and contacts?
To learn more about how to get the most out of a conference that you plan to attend, please visit the following:
Thanks for reading, and until next time… stay WISE!