Five Tips for Optimizing Your Next Business Conference
Conferences are a great way to keep on top of industry trends, network with leading professionals and learn something new. Without the proper approach, however, there is often time wasted and opportunities missed while attending these events. Follow these five steps to make the most out of your next business conference.
Show up prepared:
This simple step may seem like a no-brainer, but it can mean the difference between time well spent and time wasted. Before attending a business-related conference, do your homework. Find out who’s on the agenda, what topics will be covered and which sessions are most pertinent to your needs and areas of expertise. By planning out a general agenda for which sessions you want to attend and who you would like to engage with, you can better ensure you won’t miss important sessions or networking opportunities. Another part of being prepared means bringing your own supplies. Just like you wouldn’t show up to the first day of school without your backpack, don’t show up to a business conference without business cards and a means for taking notes, whether that be a laptop or iPad, pen and paper or an old-fashioned recording device. Be sure you have a way to absorb all the information coming your way and that you can easily refer to it once you’re back in the office.
Network, network, network:
Attending a business conference is arguably one of the best places for meeting and connecting with other like-minded professionals. Whether you are connecting with someone in your same field or a different sector of the industry, there is almost always an opportunity to gain something from the interaction. When networking at a conference, it never hurts to have a few people in mind that you would like connect with, such as thought leaders in the industry or speakers from the conference, but be sure to keep your options open to other individuals as well. Use these networking opportunities to scope out prospective clients, potential business partners or even to recruit your next employee.
Grow your knowledge bank:
The main point of conferences is to disseminate information, display cutting-edge technology and to discuss industry trends, so you ought to be walking away with some new insights. While attending a business-related conference, sit in on sessions discussing new technology that is coming to market and absorb how that technology may bring change to your industry. Listen to what thought leaders are saying about trends and discuss those trends with other conference attendees. Use information from conference sessions and interactions with other professionals to help craft new ideas for content or implement new practices in your business. At business or industry conferences, opportunities to learn are not found only during scheduled sessions, so it is important to make use of your time with other professionals to expand your own perspective and to learn something new.
Engage on social media:
Social media has become an integral part of our society and its uses continue to grow. One of those uses is sharing real-time updates right from your seat. Chances are the conference you’re attending has a designated hashtag for attendees to use when sharing updates about the event. Sharing real-time updates, whether it be via Twitter, your blog or another social platform, helps to show you’re engaged in your industry and are actively sharing news and updates from the sessions you are attending. Sharing your thoughts and takeaways over social media not only helps to establish your onlince presence, but is another way Other conference attendees will be sharing their updates as well, providing one more way to gain insight from others’ perspectives.
Educate your team:
Now that you’ve attended a business-related conference and have gained new perspectives and insights into what is taking place in your industry, it’s time to share that information with your team. It is common that one or two professionals from a workplace are able to attend an event, but it’s rare that an entire office has the opportunity to go, therefore as a conference attendee you are the liaison for your company. When you return from gathering and absorbing the information from a conference, set aside a time to debrief your team about what you’ve learned and discuss key points you feel are particularly important. By sharing your insights, the entire team will be able to capitalize on the conference without actually having been there.
Conferences are meant to be more than just a lecture, they are meant to be platforms for networking, brainstorming and engaging. By following these steps when attending your next business-related conference, you should find yourself cultivating meaningful connections and walking away with much more than what was listed on the agenda.