Whether your goal at a conference is to sell, buy or obtain knowledge, they are a great place to meet new people. However, there seems to be one every week which we could easily justify attending. Check out our list of 2017 conferences to help you plan which conferences are going on. The real challenge is narrowing down the MUST ATTENDS from the NICE TO ATTENDS.
To help you with this, here are five key factors you should consider when planning your conference agenda for the year.
Our global industry offers global opportunities which, in turn, inspires global conferences. However, the further the conference is away the more time it takes from your usual commitments, like your business or kids. Be sure to take in travel time in your conference plan. Also, the location of the conference may influence what sort of audience attends. A conference in Germany may bring in more German businesses and speakers and unless you want to expand into Germany or have a high german client-base, it might not be the best fit for you. That said, you also have global conferences, like ESOMAR, who are in Amsterdam this year (2017) but attract a global audience. If you get your hands on the attendee list, that’s a great place to start. Also follow the conference on social media or sign up for their emails so you can get an understanding of who they are targeting and encouraging to sign-up. That will give you insight into the types of contacts who may be there.
Travel and hotel costs are only some of the more obvious expenses for a conference, but there are other influences you need to consider when budgeting. Most conferences have a registration fee and then you have to think about networking costs and expenses. On top of that you may need to factor in any loss of business costs from your time out of office, or the potential to send more than one representative so you have more exposure. All the factors can influence your choice of conference so be sure to budget accordingly.
Sometimes conferences have a general theme which makes it easy to highlight it as a ‘must attend’, but you really need to hone out the finer detail. Are there certain areas in which you want to grow your business or personal skills that you want to develop? Read what each of the talks are about, who is leading it, what they have to offer that you don’t already know. If you are going to spend money at a conference it’s best to make sure that they offer more than what you already have.
From speakers to exhibitors and clients, conferences can be a great way to meet people you want to learn from and/or do business with. Be sure to get the full list of companies who are exhibiting at the conference so you can weigh up if the list is one worth hitting. Some conferences also share the full attendee list in advance, so worth checking that also. Alternatively, you may have clients going to a conference, and this is a great way to reinforce a relationship. Make sure you arrange some face to face time with anyone you know is attending, this could be whilst at the conference or one of the social events.
Every conference should offer you a return in some way and this will depend on whether you are there to sell, buy or obtain knowledge. Be sure to identify some way of measuring the success of your time so you can see the return of going. But also set personal goals to meet new people outside your agenda. Maybe it’s something simple like collect 20 business cards a day, but you never know who you may meet at a conference so it is always good to network.