Spring conference season is upon us. And whether you’re speaking, sponsoring or sitting in the audience, I bet you’re not getting a full return on the investment of time and money you spend on conferences.
If you’re anything like me, you probably spend many weeks a year in hotel conference rooms, convention centers and, when really lucky, lush resorts (with rarely any time to enjoy the amenities!).
Do you ever wonder if the travel, registration fees and time away from the office are worth the effort?
For years, I felt I wasn’t getting all I could from conference participation. But that changed when I realized these three reasons why – and what I could do about them.
1. Lack of clear intent
Does this sound familiar . . . you register for a conference because your organization always sends someone or you say, “yes” to a speaking opportunity without considering the audience or agree to sponsor an event just because you were asked?
I used to do that too. And then I’d get frustrated when I didn’t get what I wanted out of the event. Now I’m much more intentional – aligning all conference engagement choices with my goals for the year, quarterly priorities and assessment of travel and budget tradeoffs.
And then I get really clear on each specific event – why am I choosing to attend, speak, sponsor or exhibit? What are my expected outcomes? How will I ensure I meet those outcomes? How I will position myself and my company so that I connect best with the conference theme and fellow attendees?
2. No tools, structure or system to guide you while on site
Clear intent is only the first step in getting the most from conference participation. Without specific tools, structures and systems to guide you, the chaos and distractions on site can take over.
I used to find myself daydreaming during plenary sessions, scrambling to connect with people I wanted to meet or losing track of follow up from my presentations. So, I developed some tools to help me plan, focus and stay organized – so that I’d meet my conference goals every time.
Now I’ve got a template for capturing key phrases, ideas and insight during sessions, tips for helping me stand out in the crowd – like organizing a morning fun run, and daily rituals like morning meditation and evening debrief.
3. No structured time to plan and follow up
Finally, the intent and the tools won’t get you very far if you don’t make the time to plan and follow up. I used to race from one event to the next, barely looking at the agenda or finishing my presentation until I was on the plane there. Follow up? I’d do my best, but I know I left opportunities on the table.
Now I block time on my calendar to prepare appropriately. And, before I leave for the conference, I block time for my return to write my reflections or lessons (to share with my team, clients or post on social media), brainstorm with my team how to use what I learned for new products and services, have follow up conversations with people I met and conduct an event evaluation.
Are you ready to get more from your conference participation? Click here to download my Conference Companion Pack and maximize your conference time.
As a special bonus, if you download my Conference Companion Pack, try out one of the tips or tools at an event, and share your experience on Facebook or LinkedIn (tagging me or CSR Communications), I’ll send you my 10 Ideas for Introverts to Tolerate (even enjoy!) Networking Events as a thank you.
Happy Conference Season!