Business Brain Storming - View Video

Providing answers, ideas and sharing the secrets of success

Getting the Best Out of Conferences
By Rob Brown

Hands up if you've got enough time on your hands to attend a professional development or sales conference? No, thought not. So why should you attend a conference and how can you get the best out of it to make it worth your while?

Are you looking for leads, love or learning? Chances are, you'll only get one out of three, but if you're prepared, you'll make it a good one! As a motivational speaker and conference MC, I am constantly asked how to get the very best out of such events. Here are ten of my best tips to make your precious investments of time, money and effort really count:

Before You Go

  1. Set your Objectives. Decide in advance what you want to do with your time. It's not just choosing workshops but considering what why you're going and what you want from the event. This is serious professional development time. Is there a skill you want to hone? A question you want answering? Some information you need?
  2. Set Up Meetings. Often the conversations are as important as the presentations. When you invite colleagues, clients, customers and prospects, you can arrange a ‘1-2-1' with them at some point. If you can get a delegate list of people going, identify those you'd like to meet and connect beforehand.
  3. Open your Mind. You go because you want to learn and raise your game. So look at the speakers and subject matter. Go on their websites and learn a little about them. Get a great question to ask one or two. Read any bios and listen to any interviews of speakers. When you walk through the door, you'll be engaged!

While You're There

  1. Be Prepared to Walk. This is your precious time. If you're bored by a speaker or a session, bail out! This is your precious time. Get a seat near an exit and sneak out to another session or go make some calls. Not every speaker or subject matter will hit the mark for you. This is your precious time! Do I have to say that again?
  2. Make Notes. Events like Successful selling have world-class speakers and experts. They say ‘a blunt pencil beats a sharp mind'. You think you'll remember things but you won't. You're looking for a couple of great quotes, ideas or tips to help you raise your game. You might not know what they are until you get home and look at what you've written.
  3. Network Productively. If you've set up meetings, make them count. If not, use the delegate list to identify a few people you'd like to meet and see if the organisers/hosts could introduce you. If there is no such list, get yourself into conversations over lunch and breaks with a simple ‘hi, can I join you?'
  4. Buddy Up. If you go alone, look for others like you and strike up a conversation. Attend different seminars so you can meet up and compare notes afterwards. It's also good to share with someone what you thought of the main speakers - it deepens your understanding and gives you different perspectives.

After You've Been

  1. Diarize Download Time. Put a half day in your calendar to ‘dump your learning', go over any notes and follow up networking contacts. Otherwise they'll stay buried all year and it's like you never went!
  2. Teach Somebody. Is there a colleague, client or contact you can share your learning with after the conference? Perhaps you can do a presentation or report on what you learned. These deepen your knowledge and enhance your skills.
  3. Implement Quickly. Much of any training or learning is lost if you don't action it quickly. Look for opportunities to put your learning into practice as fast as you can. Use my 48-7-30 Rule, which says implement or share one idea, tip or strategy within 48 hours, another within 7 days and another within one month. That gives you ROI!

With a little planning, a little application and a little follow through, you can easily generate huge ROI from conferences. Tough times come and go, but tough people remain. Investing in yourself with relevant professional development and vital learning is the best way to give yourself the edge for more sales, more wealth and an enhanced reputation!

Added: 30th November 2010


Recent Articles

Online vs Offline Networking
As a conference speaker on business networking, I ...
> Find out more

The Four P's of Great Networking
In developing your career and your business, it is...
> Find out more

Getting the Best Out of Conferences
Hands up if you've got enough time on your hands t...
> Find out more

Subscribe to Rob Brown's articles