To enrich your knowledge, understand latest market trends, and meet new people with similar passions? If the answer is affirmative then you need a reality check in Business Conferences.
By limiting your business conference gains to mere knowledge updates and networking, you are failing to tap the enormous potential ushered by business conferences.
In the past, business conferences were occasions to mingle with people from similar professions while listening to insightful speeches by industry experts or while munching on the complimentary meals. And this social gathering would end with handshakes and exchange of business cards.
But in this new business age where ROI becomes massive factor for judging success, can you afford to invest so much of your time and dollars only to gain knowledge which is already available at your fingertips courtesy of digital media and to collect business cards that you won’t see again in your lifetime?
Investing in business conferences in this fast-paced industry age can only be justified if you squeeze out tangible returns from it. Generating sales leads, attracting investors and gaining media coverage should top your agenda while attending business conferences.
Apart from these direct ROI, business conferences can also be tapped to gain plethora of other valuable returns that foster your personal and organizational growth. Listed below are four proven ways of squeezing out all the value you can from a business conference.
How many people do you remember from the last conference you attended? Most people find it hard to recollect names of even a couple of people or products on the next morning after the conference.
Business conferences are chaotic in nature. There is a sea of people, endless sales pitches and vast amount of information is scattered around. In such fierce competitive atmosphere how do you make yourself stand out and get noticed?
The answer lies in weaving a unique and valuable experience that intrigues people and stamps your presence in their mind.
Begin with researching about people who are attending the conference and understand their expectations from the conference. Make sure your pitch delivers what the attendees seek from the conference as people pay attention to things that matter to them. Also tell people how your work can benefit them and why they should be interested in you.
One serious mistake people make is delivering the same talk to everyone. Conferences are attended by founders, investors and media. Each one of them has varied interests and is looking at different aspects of your company or product.
Have a flexible pitch that attracts and satisfies demands of different audiences. Customize your talk based on the audience you are speaking to and include personalized appeals to attract attention.
Remember you have little time so make your moment memorable by being original, clear and bold in your pitch. Handing out goodies and momento is an effective way of creating conversations with people. And if you play smart and distribute momento that are sought after or unique you can end up winning people’s attention.
At the end of a typical business conference you are left with a pile of business cards that get dumped in a black hole with an intention of never seeing them again.
As discussed earlier, conferences are a massive gathering of people from all streams of life. So, naturally you would want to strike a conversation with every other person you come across at the event. But this is where you must calm down and play it cool.
Instead of targeting the quantity of conversations you make, focus on quality of your conversations. Five fruitful and long-lasting conversations always triumph over 100 futile and formal conversations.
This is where your planning comes in the picture. Through platforms such as social media find out who is making the trip and who is attending which events. Prepare a list of people you want to meet and plan a conversation.
Keep the list concise and focus on ticking all boxes. In front of every person’s name, write down what you want to speak with them and the goals you want to achieve from the conversation. Ensure you know the face of the person you want to meet as you will have to locate them in the crowd.
Do not approach the person and vomit out the typical ‘car salesman’ pitch. Prepare an organic and articulated pitch that flows like a natural conversation. People are smart enough to identify sugar coated sales pitches, so make sure you engage with people in a humane manner and touch a chord in their minds.
Following up is essential for building solid relationships. It doesn’t mean shooting up a hollow and tasteless ‘thank you’ or ‘I enjoyed our talk’ mail or message just after hitting home.
Your follow-up message should take your conversation ahead, so you must bring something new to the table which is connected with your previous discussion. It can be a link to an article or a work you quoted during the conversation.
There is no dearth of knowledge in business conferences. An ideal conference would make you spoilt for choice courtesy of its several expert talks, panel discussions and intelligent attendees.
The question that arises then is how to accumulate all the knowledge that flows in the conference. The answer again lies in meticulous planning.
Find out about the speakers and their topics. Skim through their LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profiles to understand how they can benefit you and your business.
Check whether the topic of their talk is relevant to you or not. It isn’t wise to attend a talk only because you are smitten by the person as you may end up wasting your valuable hours listening to something that makes no sense.
Make a list of talks that actually add value to your business and focus on attending them. Don’t get distracted with the available options as they only add to confusion. Instead of getting bombarded with all kinds of knowledge, focus on gulping selective information which is relevant to you and critical for your immediate goals.
While attending conferences, stop yourself from selling out to A-list panelists or popular events. Before joining the bandwagon take a step back and check out the real value of any event. Sometimes the best deals are found on deserted paths. So, don’t hesitate to explore.
Once you come out of the conference don’t forget to put to practice your new learnings. Gaining knowledge and not channeling it to make real changes is as good as not gaining knowledge at the first place.
For effective learning, citing ideal balance between taking and giving is imperative. Be ready to push yourself and give whatever you have learned. Share your experiences, insights and knowledge with others.
By contributing your knowledge, you get the opportunity to stand out from the rest. This fuels your personal brand promotion and helps in carving out a unique space for yourself in the already crowded tech industry.
Consistent contributions make you get recognized as an expert in your domain and pave way for better business opportunities in future.
The mandatory element while making contributions is confidence. Putting your arm up and taking initiative requires confidence and confidence arises when you are certain about your skills and the values you bring to table.
Business conferences open up immense learning and networking opportunities. How much you squeeze out of these openings depend on the amount of pressure you apply, the efforts you make and your awareness.
Executing the above listed four strategies will ensure that business conferences don’t end up as mere formal networking sessions for you and instead will generate tangible ROI.