Get the Most from Attending a Business Conference; 10 Ways to Make It Happen
Business Conference Attendance Should be a Part of the Budget
Small business owners and entrepreneurs should make conference attendance a part of their yearly budget and strategic plan, but do you know how to get the most out of spending your time and money attending a conference? Here are a few suggestions to make conference attendance pay off:
- Arrive early. Arriving early gives you the opportunity to meet new people and find out what's new in your industry.
- Have on hand plenty of business cards. Be sure they are easily accessible, preferably in an attractive business card holder.
- Sit with someone you don't know, even when you may see colleagues you already know, unless, of course, you want to get to know more about their business and how you can do business together.
- Take the time to visit vendors if exhibits are a part of your conference. This is an opportunity to discover what’s new on the market that can enhance your business or make your work a lot easier. Find out who your competition is.
- Sit up front; why not in the front row? But if not the front row, then as close as you can get. Sometimes interactive sessions pay off. Besides, if you are in the front, you (and your business) have a better opportunity to stand out.
Don't Forget the Elevator Speech
6. Ask questions when it’s time for the Q&A session.
7. If a meal is served, don’t neglect good etiquette. Etiquette is still important and bad table manners are still noticed. Know which fork to use first and which is your bread plate. Avoid speaking with food in your mouth and don't forget the napkin goes in the lap
8. Prepare to deliver your short, 30-second explanation of your business and how your services or product can help the listener: commonly called the "elevator speech." Make it concise and understandable, and deliver it without hesitation. Practice at home before the conference so that you can deliver it with confidence and enthusiasm.
9. Believe it or not, you should take out that cell phone during the session, not to make phone calls, but to send tweets and post to Facebook at appropriate times. Let others know you take an active interest in growing your business by attending conferences, continuing to learn new information, and exploring new products.
10. Remember to follow up with everyone you meet. Make a phone call. Ask to add them to your social media and especially to your email list. There is gold in those business cards you habitually collect. Don’t let them sit. Use them to grow new relationships. They could be your next customers or collaborators.
Attending a conference is more than just paying for the conference and showing up. Learning and networking is the order of the day (or week). You paid for it, now get the most out of attending that business conference. Take a few moments to prepare.
Do you feel you got the most out of the last conference you attended? I'd like to hear about it.
© 2016 Cynthia B. Turner
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