(Good morning Dinks. This is a guest post from Mr. FinCon himself – Philip Taylor from PT Money. Enjoy!)
Conferences can be a lot of fun and a great way to stay connected to people in your area of interest.
But conferences can be expensive – easily over $1,000 after you add up entry fee, flight, and hotel. With that type of expense, you’ll want to make sure you are making the most of our investment.
Here are some tips for succeeding at your next conference beyond the usual “bring business cards” and “dress in layers” advice.
– Define What Success Is to You
What will make this event a success? Meeting the right people? Learning a specific insight or skill? Communicating your message? Before you sign up for an event you should have 3 or 4 things jotted down that if accomplished will make the investment in this conference worth while.
– Connect with Attendees, Speakers, and Sponsors Before the Event
Get your hands on the attendee, speaker, and sponsor list and start making connections. Look for people who can help you achieve your goals, as well as those you might be able to help. Connecting with speakers is a great way to ensure content is tailored to your needs. You might even get a shutout from the stage. Don’t neglect the conference organizer. Connect with them and inquire about any opportunities to volunteer or participate in some way.
– Plan a Mini Event that Compliments the Main Event
Use this gathering of the like-minds to form a smaller tribe of attendees interested in a common activity. For instance, you could organize a local tour to an art museum. This would instantly put you in a position of authority and other attendees would see you as a connector. It would also guarantee a few buddies for the remainder of the conference.
A mini event could also be a great way to promote your latest initiative (i.e. book, product, etc). Hold a happy hour and buy everyone a drink while your share details about your latest thing. Be sure this kind of thing is okay with the organizer.
– Ask These Three Questions and Know the Answers for Yourself
Adrian Segar, author of Conferences that Work, outlines three questions that all good peer conferences need to address:
- How did you get here? i.e. a little relevant background
- What do your want to get from this experience?
- What can you offer others?
You should prepared to ask these questions to new people you meet and of course be able to answer them yourself. You will never have an awkward moment at a conference armed with these three questions.
– Use the Event to Create Something Valuable
This is probably my favorite tip. The conference offers something you probably could not generate yourself: a collection of related people. Use this dynamic to create something valuable. As a blogger, creating content is the first thing to come to mind. But it could be anything: a survey, a picture, another event, etc.
– Allow for Unconference Time
It’s tempting to sit down with a copy of the conference agenda and map out your entire schedule. Be sure to add holes in your schedule for impromptu meetings, sessions, and social opportunities. Prioritize everything else so you know what’s crucial and what you can pass on for an extra conversation or hour of sleep.
– Follow Up 24 and 24
I stole this from “Ambassador” Mike Bruny. Follow up with your new contacts 24 hours after the event just to give them your info and then contact them 24 days later to initiate any further business.
– Philip Taylor blogs at PT Money: Personal Finance and is the creator of FinCon, a conference at the center of money and media.
Photo by kiwanja