You can spend a lot of time and money going to a conference or workshop. How can you be sure that you will get the greatest benefit from your investment? Here are a few tips:
Choose the right conference. Attend an event that is designed for people like you: the right subject matter at the right level. Evaluate the presenters. Talk to people who have been to an event by the same sponsor. What did they get out of it?
Set goals. Know what you want to accomplish. What three things do you expect to learn? Will there be people there you want to meet? What types of people will attend? Networking with other attendees can provide valuable contacts.
Plan ahead. A conference may be a chance to meet a colleague, client or vendor you have known only through e-mail and telephone communications. Let people know you will be at the conference, and make plans to get together while you are there. Arrange for meetings with vendors or clients who are exhibiting at the conference.
Take lots of business cards. Do not get caught without your cards. There will be lots of opportunities to use them.
Take your camera. You may want to get photos of people you meet, or yourself with other attendees and presenters.
Actively participate. Attend as many sessions and events as you can. You’re there to work. If you are not in a session, you should be meeting with someone or networking.
Collect business cards. Get cards from the people you meet. As you get cards, make notes on them to remind you who the person is and what follow up you need to do. When you get back to your home or office, you will not remember who all of these people are, when you got their cards, or why.
Take notes and take action. As you listen to the speakers, write down important points. Even if a handout is provided, there will be things you will want to note. Some of your notes will be about action you need to take. Write those items on a separate sheet of paper, or make them stand out by highlighting them or placing a big star next to them.
Watch for the brilliant idea. Some of what you get from a conference is brain food that will interact with things already floating around in your head to create a brand new idea. While talking with someone or listening to a speaker, you may have a flash of inspiration. WRITE IT DOWN!
Mix it up. Do not sit in the same place every day. Move to a different seat and interact with new people. Go to lunch with a different group. Do not spend all of your time with people you already know, such as the people from your company or your best friend.
Monitor your progress. Are you learning the things you came to learn? Accomplishing your other goals? If not, what can you can do to change that?
Follow up and follow through. After the conference, follow up with the people you met. Send an e-mail or a note. Keep in touch. And follow through by implementing the things you learned. Choose one or more items you wrote on your action list, and get started. Then keep working through your list.
Plan for the next conference. What are the next things you want to learn and do? Which conference will be most useful to you? Did you have goals that were not met by this event? How can you accomplish those things?
Copyright Cathy Stucker. As the IdeaLady, Cathy Stucker helps authors, entrepreneurs and professionals attract customers and make themselves famous with creative strategies that make marketing easy, inexpensive and even fun. Learn more, and get free ideas at http://www.IdeaLady.com