What are your expectations with the 2024 conference season getting ready to begin? What did you get from the conferences and tradeshows you attended in the past? Define what you were looking for within those conferences, whether it is an investment in your event, industry, or career.
Here are eight steps to maximize your investment in your next conference.
1. If the conference is in a city you have never been to, kill two birds with one stone. Attend the conference and create a mini vacation to rejuvenate yourself.
2. Look to see who is speaking at the conference. Are there professionals that you are interested in hearing and meeting? Are there people attending who you consider mentors or that you look up to? Schedule yourself critically. Break it down by topic and by when they are speaking. Speakers often overlap; make it your mission to talk to them either in the hallways as they’re changing rooms or at an event you might be attending if you can’t attend their sessions.
3. In my opinion, meeting other conference attendees is the best ROI, because you get their perspective on what others learned in each session. Listen to what people say in the hallways. Those tidbits become coins for you.
Ask questions in the hallway: what did you think of that speaker? What did you get out of it? What did you learn from it? Was there anything in particular that you picked up that I might’ve missed? Not only are you asking questions in the hallways, but you are also making friends with another industry person.
Those takeaways have led to some of the best friendships I have.
4. Do not sit in the back during presentations! Sit in the front. Make yourself visible, make yourself seen. You are an industry person. You do this daily. Why do you hide at conferences?
5. Make sure you always have business cards! Conferences are a networking opportunity for you. Do not lose out on that after you give a card and receive a card and when you get home after your mini vacation. Send a note, either handwritten or emailed, that it was nice to meet them. A small trick you can do when exchanging business cards is to write down the day you met them and what they were wearing so it sticks in your mind. Try to mention one thing you discussed to show them you were paying attention.
6. The almighty trade show! This is where you’ll get new visual design ideas and inspiration for every aspect of your business. New products are constantly coming onto the market, and trade shows are a great place to find them. Identify two or three things that you can bring into your market and be the one that introduces new trends.
Take photos of every booth you encounter that you like, and incorporate those designs with your touches and your style.
7. Follow the social media accounts of the speakers whose sessions you attended. Follow up with them after the conference with an email and let them know what you think of their presentations. Keep engaging with them and develop a relationship with them.
8. Remember: You are the creator of your power! Attending professional conferences is the first step. What you take out of them is up to you.
Invest your time well by preparing which sessions you'll attend ahead of time. We are excited to see you there!