All right, so I’m going to one of the conferences you mentioned. I’m guessing I don’t just show up and soak in new knowledge. What do I do at these things?

Prepare before attending a conference. Know exactly what your outcomes are going to be, so when it’s over, you can know that it was worthwhile. Identify your key objectives before you attend the conference. Are you going in order to learn something in particular, meet key players in your market, find new customers for your business, or just to have a good time?

For a lot of people, a conference is a huge investment. You’re taking time away from your business and family. You’re forking over huge sums of cash for the event, hotel, food, drinks, flights, transportation, and more.

Most conferences are composed of a show floor with vendor booths, and various conference rooms where talks, keynote speeches, and presentations are given. The booths and hallways outside the conference rooms are great opportunities for networking.

That’s where you see what is new in your market, discover what your competitors are doing, and interact with potential clients and vendors. Some conventions are so large that you can’t expect to cover the whole convention floor in a single day.

Each convention day starts off with a keynote speech, and then every available room is filled with speakers and presenters. You also can’t expect to attend every presentation. It’s important to choose the sessions that will help you reach your objectives. You’ll just have to get a schedule and figure out which talks are going to be most valuable to you.

Then, arrive early, have your notepad/iPad ready to go, and take great notes along the way. Stick around after the presentation, and you might be able to get some time with the speaker and get more in-depth or personalized information.

Some conferences offer paid seminars that are much more in depth. The authors of this book regularly teach seminars like this. Depending on the content, the size of the venue, and the expected audience, seminars can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $10,000 per person. Usually you can expect A-list material delivered by the industry’s foremost experts, but research the speaker before writing a check.

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