- Business and Employment
10 Ways to Get the Most Benefit from Attending a Business Conference
When Attending Your Next Business Conference
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 valuable time and money attending a business conference? Here are a few suggestions to help you get the most from attending your next business conference:
- Arrive early wearing a name tag.(If you don't have one, create one. Wear it on the right side of your jacket or blouse.) Arriving early gives you an advantage because now you have the opportunity to meet new people and find out new products and services in your industry.
- Don't forget your business cards! I can't stress that enough. Be sure they are easily accessible (no fumbling, please), preferably in an attractive business card holder. There is an etiquette to handing out business cards. This is another opportunity to stand out. And, just as important and maybe more important, don't forget to ask the person you are meeting for their business card! You can't follow-up if you don't have their information.
- 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. Ask for the contact information.
- 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. This is one of your reasons to arrive early.
- 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 in prizes. Besides, if you are in the front, you (and your business) have a better opportunity to stand out.
Use Good Table Manners and Don't Forget the Elevator Speech!
6. If a meal is served, don’t neglect to use good manners. 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. If you are a male, stand when others approach your table.
7. If you are confused or would like to follow-up on something the speaker said, the Q&A session is the perfect time toe get your questions answered. This can also help you make a possible connection with the speaker. Don't miss the opportunity to follow-up with the speaker after the session or during a break if you still have questions.
8. Prepare to deliver your short, 30-second explanation of your business and the most important ways your services or product can help the listener: commonly called the "elevator speech." Make it concise and understandable. Deliver it without hesitation. Practice at home before the conference so that you can deliver it with confidence and, especially, enthusiasm. You want to make an impression.
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. You are also helping the conference sponsors and speakers by "marketing" their products and expertise.
10. Most important of all, remember to follow up with everyone you meet. Make a phone call; send a note (yes, a handwritten note). 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. Take the quiz and leave a comment.
Awkward Getting to Your Business Cards? Here's the Answer
Your Conference Experience
Do you get the most benefit from attending conferences?
© 2016 Cynthia B Turner