I’m sure many if not all of us have attended a conference at some point in our careers. It was likely that you “had” to go as a requirement from your employer, or maybe it was a conference you felt could help you advance your career, and your employer even foot the bill. Regardless of what your reasons for attending then, we’re going to be discussing the importance of attending conferences in your current entrepreneurial endeavor.
There are so many conferences to consider, and new ones are popping up every year. You’ll obviously need to pour a little research into the reasons of why to attend a certain conference, which would likely involve questions like, “what are the networking opportunities like?” Or, “how could something like this benefit my clients?”
These are just a couple of many examples we’ll be discussing on this podcast today, but it’s a start that’ll help you get moving in the direction you need to head into.
1. Let’s begin with the business goals
Now, it’s not necessarily going to be measurable if you set a goal of growing your business this year. What I mean is, you have to get more specific with these goals. Depending on the particular conference, you have to evaluate whether there’s some alignment.
If one of my goals is to launch a brand new product or service in the coming year that may be adjacent to what I’m already doing and there’s a specific conference talking about ways to launch new products or services, then it would seem that this situation is a “must attend.”
Or, if I wanted to increase my engagement by 30-50% on Facebook, and there was a conference about Facebook marketing, then this too might be a viable conference to attend. Having your specific business goals documented and in front of you will definitely help you decide whether these conferences are aligned with your goals.
2. Okay, but is this conference actually targeted to me?
This should be obvious, but if you are strictly a consulting service based business, and the conference you might be interested in attending is only going to be talking about how to set up a physical retail shop, then yeah, this might not be the conference for you.
Now as nurse consultants you should also not get too caught up in to whether this a platform for healthcare professionals. There are some obvious industry specifics that would be helpful, however there are plenty of other consulting based businesses that have services that could scale in a very similar manner in which you could ultimately implement in your own businesses.
Also, don’t get too caught up in the number of attendees. There could be a huge benefit of attending a more “intimate” conference, which I’ll expand on from a networking standpoint in a moment.
3. So who’s going to be speaking at this thing?
Head over to the conference pages and social media presence to glean as much as you can about the founders of the conference, who’s actually hosting (if it’s different than the founders), check out the list of the speakers, and try to see who may have attended in the past. Nowadays there’s a hashtag that conferences are using and if you just do a simple Twitter search to find profiles of previous attendees, then you could likely converse with them online about their experience.
Networking should always be a goal of yours, and in the post Your New Year Is Now I talk about creating a list of influential people you’d like to meet, and whether they’re a speaker at this event or an attendee, this will certainly get you a heck of a lot closer in proximity to them.
And as I mentioned before about the number of attendees, the event may host some very influential speakers, which you’ll likely have a much better chance at connecting with them directly during or after the event.
4. What’s the return on investment?
It would be great to attend every conference out there, but there’s usually a couple of larger obstacles in our way. The lack of unlimited time and money.
You don’t just have to consider the travel expenses, but also the time away from your business where in some cases you may be the sole “billable” employee generating revenue.
Circling back to step one with your specific goals in mind, you may find it much easier to tie an actual dollar amount to those goals. So for instance, if the travel expenses and lost revenue amount to say, $5,000 (as a nice round number), is there a possibility you could either make that up with some new business opportunities that could come out of it or as another example, by learning new techniques that allows you to potentially make up that lost revenue much quicker or on a larger scale.
I’ve personally developed a lot of lucrative business partnerships at conferences that have given me a huge return on my investment of time and money.
I’ve also mentioned before that you should also consider conferences that are within a 50-100 mile radius of a major metro area where the travel expenses may be very minimal where there’s no airfare or hotel stays, just a tank of gas, a meal or two, and less time away from your business. There are also virtual tickets to conferences that can be purchased at a significant discount where you can consume the content on your own terms.
5. Let’s get it on the books.
As we mentioned in the show, even if you haven’t purchased your entry to the conference or set up your travel arrangements, get it on your calendar. Set it as if you’re fully committed to going. This will keep you accountable and working toward that goal of getting there. If you’re saving to get to the conference, then this can give you that firm timeline in which to do it. Or, if you’re also trying to figure out logistics on how to combine this trip with another, then this is definitely a good way to spread those travel dollars a lot further and minimize your time away for another meeting or event in the area that you may have had to attend anyway.
Just commit, and show up.
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