Are conferences overrated? A lot of people think that attending conferences is an overrated discourse. I attend a lot of conferences and I do not think so. Probably, you might know a lot of people that attend conferences but it seems like nothing different happened in their lives it is not because the conference wasn’t good enough it is because they did not act on the things that they learnt or remind themselves of it. Usually, I buy the audio materials from the conference to play while in transit, to say reminded and to actually hear things I didn’t hear during the conference. I strongly recommend this practice.
Conferences are a great means for personal development, networking and career advancement. Especially finding conferences that revolve around the areas of your interest and your industry.
On the other hand, some say that they never hear of conferences that are happening around them. Maybe they need change their circles and look out for information more and get deliberate about searching.
There are a number of ways to maximize attending a conference:
Find out what the conference is about. Does it affect an area that is relevant to your interests? Don’t just step into any room or attend every event. Get a feel first of what it is about and then decide whether it’s for you.
Find out about the speakers. I once attended a conference and the question someone asked during the Q&A was,’ so what do you Ma?’ It sounded absolutely foolish, the woman gave him a serious insult I am sure it took him a while to recover from.
During a little research isn’t so hard, simple Google them and read what comes up and also you can check them out on popular social media platforms like Facebook & Instagram. That way you have some background information about them and can better relate to their sessions.
Try to also get a feel for what kind of gathering it is, so you can plan how to dress appropriately. You don’t want to be overdressed or underdressed. How you dress actually has amazing effects on your confidence levels and how you feel about yourself. You want to dress confidently and comfortably.
Work on your networking skills, if you as terrible at networking and making new friends as I get a lot of practice ahead of time. Read ahead about how to make friends and network. I definitely recommend the book. How to win friends and influence people, it’s a great read and free downloads are available online.
Plan your elevator pitch/bragalogue. This is a summarized version of who you are and what you do and how that affects people. It’s better to practice that beforehand. It would come in handy while meeting people and pitching yourself or your business. There are lots of resources online also that can help with that.
Social media handles particularly Instagram in this present age mostly suffices as a business card. That’s the idea and image that people get from you. So please go to your social media page and ensure it correctly represents and brands you.
Arrive early! Don’t be let otherwise you might miss a great part of the conference. Plus you’d get good packing space and enough time to compose yourself before the event starts.
If your friends are going to distract you please don’t sit with friends. I usually prefer to sit alone so I can concentrate and glean everything that is being said. A lot of times chatter by the side distracts us and then we miss the point.
Getting a front row seat is usually a good decision. It really helps concentration and you get a good feel of the speakers and the event.
Also, avoid walking around and frequent visits to the bathroom or trips to the vendors to buy food except during the breaks.
I’d suggest that you buy whatever you need before you are sited in the hall. A bottle of water and mint won’t be bad.
Take notes/ make your own recording/buy the CD. Prepare money to buy other resources that might be sold at the venue.
The real work starts after the conference not during the conference. It is not just about what you know but how you are able to utilize and maximize what you know. People take notes during conferences but few people actually go back and read the notes that they have taken.
It is not just enough to take notes, what are the action points you will take based on the notes that you have written out. When do want to take those actions and how? Don’t just listen and write, plan the corresponding action and keep yourself in constant reminder.
I am a vision board advocate, so I strongly recommend making a vision board out of the inspiration, ideas and action plans.
Follow Up with the people that you might at the conference. A lot of times people network and all but they don’t follow up on it. Send a text or a message to the person you met saying hello and what a pleasure I was to meet them. I am not taking mere flattery but real honesty and then service that relationship.It is only when you need something that you’d remember the person and send a message out of the blues.
The last part is teaching what you have learnt. A lot of times, people tend to want to hoard what they know so that they can stay on top. The way to stay indispensable is to be able to replicate yourself in others. No, don’t! Spread your influence by empowering others with what you have learnt.
Pray! Pray! Pray! Ask God for help. Help in identifying the right conferences to attend and then to be able to gather relationships as a result and maximise them as well.