3 Ways to Maximize ROI When Attending an Event

By: Mike Williams

In the month of March I will be attending four different industry events or conferences. With that kind of schedule, it would be easy to allow them to blend into one another and lose the potency of each learning opportunity. I have three basic conference rules (or guidelines) that I like to follow that I will share with you. These are great for yourself, or maybe to start setting expectations for your team members.

  1. Preplanning. So easily said, so easily done. Yet, at every event I go to I see folks with their event guides out, trying to decide which seminar they plan to see, which vendor they will visit, just moments before they have to walk into the room. I like to preplan my agenda, carefully read about the material, maybe Google the speaker, and decide which classes I will take (or which vendors I will visit) based on that information. If I need help deciding, I might ask my supervisor or the company owner to look at the agenda and see if they have a preference of which session(s) I should attend.
  2. Network … on purpose. Confession: even as an extrovert, I still find it horribly intimidating to walk up to a stranger and introduce myself. Or even more daunting is to see a group of folks chatting and simply join the conversation. But I do it anyway. I may not be comfortable, but it is what I am being paid to do! (Side note: try this approach – “Hi, I’m [Name], what are you here to learn?”) Forcing myself into networking opportunities has lead to great business deals, lasting relationships, and some really funny stories. Pro-Tip: If you are traveling with co-workers, agree to NOT sit with one another in any class, meal, or break until supper time. This will force the opportunities for networking for each person.
  3. Lastly, the primary reason your company is sending you to an event is to gain knowledge or experience that you can share. Have a plan for sharing. Will it be an informal meeting with your boss where you go over what you learned? Will it be a more formal and written presentation to the leadership team? How about a presentation to your co-workers about how you envision that knowledge being put to good use at your company? No matter how it is done, the simple exercise of note gathering, condensing, and thinking about application should greatly increase your return on investment.

A little preplanning, purposeful behavior, and planned sharing can make it so that nobody ever regrets sending you to amazing destinations to gain industry knowledge. Go get ’em!

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