Four Reasons to Attend a Conference That Don’t Have to Do with Revenue

As professionals we are eager to find ways to grow in our careers. There are many ways to achieve professional growth — reading a book, seeking out a mentor, or getting involved. Another way that is sometimes overlooked due to the price tag that is associated with participating — conferences.

It’s no secret that conferences can be on the expensive side and many employees and employers have a hard time justifying the cost because they are constantly trying to tie it back to a financial gain for the business. In business terminology they are looking for the return on investment (ROI).

The ROI is usually not an immediate factor that can be tied to a new business devepemnt. In my opinion that is the sub-factor of attending a conference, you should never attend a conference just for the new business outcome. Instead you should be focused on the following four benefits of attending a conference:

1. Learn

Having the opportunity to learn something new should be the first reason anyone wants to attend a conference. The ability to learn at a conference is beyond beneficial but can be ruined if you are not prepared. The biggest disservice any conference attendee could do is blindly arrive at a conference with no plan in place.

I remember a few years back a co-worker at the time and I attended South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas and you want to talk about a conference that you have to go into with a plan, then SXSW is that conference. There are hundreds of amazing speakers and sessions happening concurrently. Luckily my co-worker did a lot of the heavy lifting with the scheduling aspect, but as I think back on that experience the legwork she did before the conference was clutch. In return we were able to attend the sessions that would benefit us the most in what we were trying to achieve from attending SXSW.

At the same time you must know that not every session is going to satisfy your hopes and needs. In those instances you can’t be afraid to abandon ship and check to see if another session is available that may meet your needs. Remember you paid money to attend a conference and it’s your job to make sure you get the most out of it.

2. Network

Scratching your head on the best way to connect with individuals in your industry? May I suggest attening a conference. Conferences provide you with the ability to create meaningful connections with other individuals in your industry and continue those conversations long after the conference ends.

Besides the meaningful connections you make within your industry it is also an opportunity to connect with vendors that directly serve your industry. It’s no secret that the price tag to host a conference can cost tens of thousands of dollars for most organizers. Majority of organizers offset their costs by having sponsors support the conference. In return they get to have a physical presence at the conference and connect instantly with their target audience.

3. Content

A mentor of mine is notorious for saying, “Content is king.” And you know what? He’s right. Conferences provide attendees with the opportunity to digest content in not only a verbal manner, but also in a non-verbal manner.

Speakers and panelists are able to deliver both small and large nuggets of information that attendees are able to use to validate what they are currently doing or not doing, or share on social media to an even larger audience that may be following along.

The non-verbal portion comes into play when you consider the high caliber of presentations that are being presented. It’s an attendees opportunity to get inspired by well-thought-out presentations and leverage those into their future presentations.

4. Share

Not everyone from an organization can attend the same conference. So a big part of the responsibility of the conference attendee is to be able to digest information, create connections and bring that information back to their home base and share with others. Being able to share what you learned with your team and to use that information to help grow your team and business is an extremely valuable benefit of sending someone to a conference.

Leave a comment on the conferences that you have planned to attend in 2018 and maybe we can bump into each other IRL.

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