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Making the Call on Industry Conferences
  • 20 October 2019
  • Maya Harper

Making the Call on Industry Conferences

All conferences are not created equal. While industry events and conventions hold an immense amount of potential for helping you make the kinds of connections that could make a real difference for your business, there are also important costs, watch-outs and pitfalls to be aware of before you decide which ones are right for you.

Making the Call on Industry Conferences

Before you add your name to the list, ask yourself these three key questions to help determine whether that upcoming conference is worth your while.

1) Who will you meet?

  • Make sure the right people are in the room. Whether you are looking to present or just attend, make a list of the kinds of people you are looking to meet. Are you searching for people who might want to try your product or service? Or are you seeking out advice or connections in a particular area, like bookkeeping or web design? Make sure those are the people who will be attending.

  • Avoid getting sidetracked by online streaming options. If you are going to invest the time, it is worth attending in person so you do not miss out on valuable face-to-face networking.

  • Check the schedule ahead of time. This is especially important if you are thinking about presenting. Figure out what else is going on at the time you will be speaking. Are you the main event in your time slot? Do you bring a fresh angle other speakers cannot deliver that would draw more people in? For example, if you work in tech, you might consider attending a marketing conference to bring a new technology angle to that conversation, versus presenting at a tech conference where your message could get lost in the noise of similar speakers.

2) What are you aiming to walk away with?

  • Lay out measurable goals. Getting the most out of industry opportunities will require some groundwork on your end — primarily, knowing what you want to accomplish and figuring out whether a specific conference is the right fit. Whether you are looking for live feedback on a product, trying to establish a specific number of sales leads, or attempting to make a contact with a specific skill, knowing your goals ahead of time will help you make the most of the day.

  • Maximize your potential for success in those goals by doing some prep work, like having a working prototype of your product ready, practicing your elevator pitch, or reaching out to people you really want to meet ahead of time.

  • Keep track of your goals and your ROI if you do decide to attend. This will help you make an educated decision next time in terms of whether the business benefits were worth the cost in time and money.

3) Is the timing right?

Making the Call on Industry Conferences

  • Consider the time of year. Because conferences take up a large chunk of hours, the timing of the event is an important aspect of whether it is right for you and your business. If the conference comes at a point where you have a little bit of extra time or cash flow, or you are in a slow season where you may be able to drop what you are doing for a day or two, that is probably the best time to consider attending.

  • Keep surprise costs in mind. If the conference comes at a time when budgets are tighter, be wary: These types of events come with a lot of unexpected costs that can be a surprise for less experienced attendees.

  • Give yourself enough time to prepare. The more time you have to get ready, the more likely you are to accomplish your goals for the day, so make sure you are accounting for how far out the conference is, in addition to the actual hours and dollars you will spend to attend.

With hundreds of thousands of conferences and conventions happening every year, it is important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of attending. The great news is that no matter what you decide, you can figure out ways to benefit. If you do not go, look into who is attending, and reach out to them separately. Or find out if a speaker you wanted to see has a blog or other publications you can dig into. And, of course, if you go, check out The UPS Store’s other posts on how to reap the benefits, from making a lasting first impression to building and maintaining those connections long after the conference ends.

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