Is It Worth Going To Conferences?

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Is It Worth Going To Conferences?


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March 06, 2014

When you work for a large corporation, you don’t have much of a choice about whether or not you go to the company conference.  They are often filled with workshops, PowerPoints, happy hours, and every once in a while a late night story that you really don’t care to share by the time you get back home.  However, there are industry conferences that are being put on all the time.  In the financial services industry alone, I counted well over 100 conferences I could attend ranging from technical competency training to practice management.   So, is it a smart money move to attend a conference over the next year?

Here are seven tips to consider to determine if it will be worth going to an upcoming conference:

  1. Determine Where Your Biggest Personal Or Business Bottleneck Is At This Time- If you are going to spend the money to go to a conference, make sure the agenda matches what skill sets you need to develop the most.
  2. Plan Your Agenda- Ansley Colby, Vice President of Knowledge Development for the AALU says, “Set strategies and goals for each event.   What five or six people do you need to make sure you connect with? Ask yourself, what does success look like? Know ahead of time what you need to do to meet your goals and expectations.”
  3. It Is A Break From The Daily Grind- I have found over the years that some people attend conferences and then end up doing work anyway or really just having some sun and fun. It’s not a vacation.  You need to make sure you stop regular work and focus on the work you plan to get done at the conference.
  4. Arrive A Day Early, So You Aren’t Groggy- Often, people skip the first half day of events and cocktail reception because of their flight schedule.  Get in a day early so you can get focused on the conference.
  5. Hang At The Coffee Table, Join A Dinner- You’ll meet a ton of new people just by hanging out at the coffee bar or the coffees shop.  If you just go back to your room, you’ll miss out on really valuable information sharing.  The same is true in the evenings.  If you bug out to visit family or friends, you’ll miss the dinner conversation and knowledge sharing that happens at a round table.
  6. Once You Get To The Conference, Carefully Check Your Seminar Schedule- Certainly you can check the industry website before the event to decide what classes will be best suited to gain the information you need to grow your business or your personal skills.  However, once you get to the conference you may learn that one particular workshop could be more valuable to you than you originally thought.  Get slotted in the workshops that provide maximum return for your investment.
  7. Stay Social- Before, during, and after the event, conference can be a great way to shout out about the event itself or meet other connected colleagues that can help you increase your exposure on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.  Make sure your name tag is very visible and don’t hide in the corner.

If you have found yourself at a conference in the past where you played golf during the day and then met your college friends for a dinner in town, I might just recommend taking a vacation.  Sitting through just the one or two keynote speakers is not the way to maximize your cash outlay to go to a conference.   Use these seven tips and you will quickly determine whether or not it is worth going to a future conference.

Written by:
Ted Jenkin

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