Business conferences are still events which provide excellent opportunities for professional development, establishing contacts and growing your business, but only if you know what to do and how to do it. Not only can you learn a lot, but you have so many chances to meet people from the industry who might become your clients or who can recommend you to others. However, you shouldn’t leave anything to luck, but prepare well for each and every conference you attend. Here are just some of the most important things you should do before, during and after a conference, which should help you make the most out of it.
Set your goals
There must be some very good reasons why you’ve decided to attend a particular conference. Think about them and consider what you’d like to gain from the experience. You may wish to introduce your company to a wider audience or improve brand perception, for instance, which is why you need to go to the conference with a list of goals you’d like to achieve during the event. Don’t forget your goals and work towards reaching them.
Manage your time carefully
Just like you plan your vacation, you need to do the same when it comes to attending conferences. Every conference organiser issues the conference itinerary ahead of time and in most cases you have both a print and electronic version. Look carefully at the sessions you are most interested and make sure you allow yourself enough time to move from one venue to another. You need to plan all that before the conference in order to avoid confusion once you get there.
Get your materials ready
You need to represent your company in the best possible way. Everyone will base their opinion of your brand based on the impression you leave. So, make sure you have enough business cards and all other advertising material ready. If you need great product catalogues and brochures, turn to professionals who do great print advertising material.
If there is an interesting talk you’d like to hear or a chance to meet someone you can really learn from, make sure you brainstorm the questions you’d like to ask them. This is also a chance for you to voice a question on behalf of your team, as well. So, ask them what they’d like to hear and add their questions to your list.
Get into right mindset
Some conference attendees shy away from the opportunity to create new connections because networking makes them inauthentic. Those people can never really benefit from such events unless they change their mindset. You’re not establishing connections because that is what you should do, but because it’s great for your career and future success. A conference should not be seen as an obligation, but rather as an opportunity to expend and diversify your network and acquire new knowledge.
Hunt for information
It’s vital to speak with as many people as possible at a conference. You might hear more about the topics that interest you or get inspired by some new ideas and concepts. In order to do this, you should try to attend as many sessions as you can, even if a topic doesn’t seem directly related to what you do. You never know when you might learn something, especially when it comes from a different angle. Needless to say, if an opportunity arises to talk to one of the keynote speakers, grab it. Ask them all the questions you’ve prepared or discuss a point they made during their presentation.
Build your network
A lot has already been said about the importance of networking. It’s probably the most beneficial aspect of every conference. That’s why you should not shy away from introducing yourself to new people, even if you are introverted in nature. All successful businesspeople believe meeting face-to-face is crucial for nurturing and maintaining long-term professional relationships.
One of the things many people fail to do is follow up on the groundwork they did at a conference. If there is a logical and natural opportunity for you to get in touch with someone you met at the conference, use it. However, be careful not to come off as overbearing or desperate for a business connection. You should start a professional, yet friendly conversation and turn that into a connection that will last. Pay attention to what they say and don’t be aggressive in your approach.
Naturally, these are just some of the most important and basic tips you should follow regarding your presence at a business conference. As the number of conferences you have attended rises, you’ll surely come up with some additional ones, which might actually help you gain advantage over your competitors. Business conferences are still very important because they provide so many benefits. It’s only up to those attending them to make the most of their time there, which includes careful preparation, proactive behaviour and following up. Only then can you say you’ve truly reaped all the benefits.