3 Ways to Make the Most of an Event or Conference

Have Goals When You Attend Conferences & EventsConference and event season is underway!

When you attend an event or conference, you are investing your time, your energy and your money. 

How do you ensure that you get a great return on that investment? 

Here are 3 simple ways that you can guarantee your event experience is positive, productive and profitable.

1.  Get a Goal (or 2 or 3)

You need to know WHY you are attending an event and WHAT you hope to accomplish by being there.  Getting clear on your purpose and the outcomes you want to achieve will help you spend your time wisely AND be able to determine the success of an event.  Remember, make your goals specific and measurable – such as, “Meet 3 women in the financial services industry” or “Find an online meeting provider/vendor that meets our budget and feature requirements.”

**** Hey!  Did you skip over #1 because you’ve “heard it all” about goals and yada, yada, yada?  Don’t do it!  Please!  I beg you! ****

2.  Be a Giver. 

Many people attend events wondering what they will “get” from it?  In addition to having specific goals around what we want to “gain” from attending an event, it’s also important to think about what you can “give.”  Ask yourself what is something of value that you can share with other attendees, speakers or vendors.  Perhaps it’s a tips sheet on your area of expertise.  Or, perhaps you can share a link to a great list of resources for entrepreneurs.  Be a helpful resource to others and they will value your connection.

3.  Commit to Doing

You are at an event to connect and learn.  However, simply learning and soaking up new information is NOT going to do you any good unless you DO something with it.   As you attend sessions or share tips over lunch, keep a list of possible “action items.”  Then, schedule time within the next week of the event to prioritize and take action on implementing the most important items from your list.

Remember, “Knowledge without action is useless.”  Abu Bakr

Bonus Tip:  Put down the Smartphone!  I love my phone and apps as much as you, but when it prevents me from truly connecting with others or it distracts me from learning what I purposefully attended an event to learn, then it’s time to take a break.  Don’t miss out on the benefits of attending a conference or event because your eyes and attention are glued to your phone. 

Comments

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  1. Your tips are excellent. For networking events, focusing on giving is so important. At educational events, the action is essential. It’s so easy to leave and then not put anything into practice. I like how you’ve said to schedule time to do things within the next week. That’s when the inspiration and learning is still alive and fresh.

    • Thanks, Leanne!

      Creating momentum from our initial interactions and our learning by TAKING ACTION is a simple concept, but one that most folks never put into practice. Our focus on “more connections”, “more information” and just “more” in general causes us to lose sight of the fact that we MUST DO something with what we learn and follow through with the people we meet.

  2. Beginning with the end in mind is so important. If you don’t know why you are doing something or what you expect to achieve how will you know if it was worth it. I love that you mention putting down the smartphone Cathy. It’s a wonderful tool yet it can be a distraction from live interaction with in person events and activities.

    • Hey Kim! Thanks for stopping by!

      I love my smartphone (perhaps a bit too much!), but the power of face-to-face interaction and connection will ALWAYS be an important part of business and life!

  3. I’ve heard so much about learning and learning and never DOING anything with it. I know that phones can be such a distraction too when you are trying to learn. Conferences are one of those times when you just need to turn it off so you can pay attention and actually accomplish the goals that you lined up! Great post!

    • Heather,

      I realize we live in the age of technology, but we seriously seem to have issues with turning it off even just for a short period of time to focus on what is being said at the present time. I’m all for “tweeting” and “posting”, but not when it detracts from the experience.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Excellent advice! I know a few conference junkies that could benefit from this article, especially when it comes to putting the smart phone away!

    • Nicole,

      Love the term “conference junkie” — I became one for about a year or so, then regained my sanity. :-)

      It is a challenge to focus — on anything — these days. And, smartphones simply complicate the situation. I know I personally love mine, so I have to turn it OFF completely so I can stay fully focused on the speakers and discussions. If I’m truly not interested, then I excuse myself and go elsewhere to check messages and Facebook. That way, I don’t annoy or distract those around me.

      Thanks for the comment!

  5. These are things to think about. These will help you tremendously in your effort to make wise decisions about what events to attend and which ones not to. Thanks for the direction on this!

    • Hello Daveda!

      There are SO MANY options for events these days — going to them could be a full time job in and of itself! So, it’s so important to be strategic and selective about where you spend your time, energy and money.

      Glad you liked the tips!

  6. These are 3 powerful tips Cathy, this is useful, we all go to these type of events but rarely do we examine our purpose for going.

    • Hey David — thanks for the comment!

      I think we hear A LOT of advice around networking, marketing, business that we never fully implement. The most foundational and basic piece of advice is to know your purpose or goal for doing something — what do you hope to achieve? I ask people before and during events this question and so often get blank stares. Hopefully, this will simply remind folks to take a minute or two to get focused.

  7. great tips! I definitely noticed my participation in our yearly seminar (Mary Kay) changing and maturing as I spent more and more time in my business year by year. I think I may have thought of each of these tips but have never put them together in my head like this before and will certainly do so the next time I attend seminar! VERY good points! Thank you!

    • Thanks, Heather!

      Big conferences with lots of activities (like your Mary Kay yearly seminar) are especially challenging, so having a plan and some focus on what you most want to achieve by attending is so important. Best of luck at your next “big” conference!

  8. Stephanie Frank says:

    Your are so right! You must have the right attitude in life and business. Being confident in who you are is very important for online business success as well. Great info!

  9. When attending an event that is more than one day long and involves sitting, try to choose a different spot each day (or even after breaks if it’s allowed). That way, you will have a chance to chat and get to know more of the attendees.

  10. Great advice. Conferences are not my favorite thing but you may have helped make them easier!

    • Jennifer,

      As an introvert, big groups of people tend to overwhelm me. However, I do attend quite a few conferences for the learning and the networking, so I’ve had to develop a process that works to achieve my goals without wearing me out. Some of these points do just that.

      Thanks.

  11. Excellent tips, one and all. Action is the name of the game. And you certainly can’t connect with the people in front of you if you’ve got your nose in your phone. Good job!

  12. Some super tips here Cathy, I agree with them all. Goals are so important. Everything we do must serve a purpose and take us closer to achieving our big picture thinking. The problem is often that people are focused on the big picture thinking and not the individual steps it takes to getting there such as… a conference.

    Smartphones… ugh! With you there. How annoying is it when people are constantly texting or looking at their phones? I really believe in being in the moment and connecting with people.

    Again, another fantastic point re. doing. You want the attendees to go back to every day life and catch themselves applying what they have learned, this is where the real value lies. Love this post and thanks for sharing Cathy :-)

    • Thanks for the great comments, Chloë!

      I’m a detail person and former project manager, so the plans and individual steps are what I love to create the most!

      Being in the moment seems to be a rare ability these days, so I think it’s good to remind folks.

  13. Awesome tips! Knowledge without action is indeed useless so it is a good idea to take action on implementing what you have learned. How do you exactly in detail make the most of a certain event or conference?

    • Lorii,

      One of my favorite quotes is: “Without knowledge action is useless and knowledge without action is futile.” –Abu Bakr

      There are LOTS of ways to increase the ROI you get from an event, but one of the things I do is to keep an “Action Item List.” This list is for MUST DO items that I learn or think of at the conference. It’s separate from my notes and is kept intentionally short — which makes me prioritize which items I feel would be most beneficial to my business at the time. Then, I also schedule time after every conference for implementation and follow up.

      Thanks for the comment!

  14. I agree with you Cathy! There’s no point going to an event if you don’t know why you have to attend it. Setting a goal before attending an event or a conference is really a must.

    • Right on, Edmund!

      And, yet, so many of us (yes, me included sometimes) go to events “just to go” or because someone invited us, etc. I find that I get so much more out of an event if I am purposeful and intentional about my participation.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Great tips as I am preparing for my first event as a vendor later this month!

    • Thanks, Holly!

      Being a vendor can be a GREAT way to connect with event attendees — before, during and after the event! Putting together a simple strategy for doing this will help you leverage the opportunity for visibility and for inviting people into your community. (newsletter, membership site, etc.)

      Best of luck!

  16. Get tip.. to list the things that you learned and put aside time to fillow through with them!