How do you get the best results from attending your professional conference? What do you need to do to get the best ROI on your time investment? Here are two strategies to help you grow and prosper by attending a key conference this coming year!
I’m still on the road this week, but wanted to make sure you got a great return on your time and money attending conferences. I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned at conferences over the past several weeks on the road. Here’s the first installment in this series called How to get great results from your next conference!
Now you planned your day at the conference. Let the networking begin! Having clients go through the step of choosing where they should be and what they want to see makes the conference more stress free. Don’t fill up your schedule completely because you might meet someone you would like to talk with between classes. But stay relaxed, you’re going to have a great conference because of your planning.
The second strategy is being prepared to network. There are so many great people in the room you should be prepared to talk with them. This means having enough business cards with me to exchange with others and having a simple description of what I do prepared so I can share it easily. Networking can be awkward, so I try to sit with different people throughout the day. It gives me a chance to meet other like-minded people and provides me an opportunity to hear about what other new entrepreneurs are doing.
I don’t try for volume of connections, but quality of connections. Since many of the people are trying to meet as many people as possible, I try to give them time to do that. I have a brief conversation and let them know I’d like to call them if that’s okay. With everything else going on, it’s hard to have a quality conversation with someone you just met anyway.
I don’t rush, but typically I meet between 25-30 people over the course of each day at the conference. At a more technical conference, this number might increase significantly because the technical nature of the programs. You really can’t engage people during the presentations.
One of my tips for this is to get to each program early and set up in the first or second row. Most people prefer to sit further back and will give you their card to have you sit in front of them. Take time to talk with the people around you.
Most conferences have great sponsors and exhibitors that you should visit while you’re there. They help make these programs affordable for all of us. It’s great for meeting people in a more relaxed setting. If you’re an introvert, you might prepare a couple questions to ask people when you’re networking throughout the day.
The third strategy is going to the keynote session with an open mind. I have never walked away from a keynote session without getting several great ideas to implement in my business. The people who are keynoting are great speakers with practical ideas on how to help your business grow. Many have books and all of them are very giving.
Many of the ideas they share might change how you do business and you get a chance to interact afterwards to get your questions answered. Don’t be shy about asking a question if you have one. I have found that if I have a question, so do other people in the room. So be ready. I’m sure you’ll do great.
Finally, a bonus strategy, schedule follow up actions. For me, it’s sending invites on LinkedIn, following the people I meet on Twitter, and, many times, scheduling a phone follow-up to reconnect. If you’ve made a good impression on a presenter or a fellow attendee, don’t be afraid to set up a next step in the relationship. You find the people you meet at conferences are extremely easy to talk with because most are in the same place you are and you have the shared experience of attending the conference.
They want to help and be helped. A simple way of helping others grow is by asking them how you could help them. By this, I mean you could ask who their best customer is and why or, my favorite, what’s your biggest challenge today. It always brings a smile to their face.
Have a great time attending conferences. It’s a great investment of your time and efforts. Have fun and I’ll see you at the conference.