Do you feel like you’ve attended one too many webinars in your life time? I know I feel that way. Webinars are great, because they are cheaper and you can view them at your own convenience, but there is a definite plus to actually attending a conference in person. It’s a completely different experience than you would get in person compared to attending a webinar.
Attending a conference in person gives you a chance to meet and interact with people in your industry. These connections can provide future partnerships and allow you to bounce ideas off other people with similar goals. Webinars are mostly one-way communication where you can ask questions but interactivity is limited. Recent webinars from MarketingProfs and HubSpot try to create a more engaged environment through trending Twitter topics, however there’s still a screen between participants.
The people you meet are good for more than just bouncing ideas off; they can also be future clients of yours or connect you with prospects you’ve been trying to break into. If you can find a complimentary offer you can provide to help the new contact and the prospect, that’s where the real gold is. The more people you know the larger your network becomes. And we all know the power of networking. If you don’t or don’t believe it, you need to read Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. Check out this excerpt from the book on how to be a ‘Conference Commando.’ Ferrazzi’ the master at outlining how you can use conferences to find people you can help in order to potentially help you reach your goals both professionally and personally. Remember that it all starts with generosity.
In additional to meeting new people, this is a great way for you to learn of new ideas to implement at your company. You’ll get a chance to hear what the industry leaders are doing and get to ask them questions directly. If you don’t attend conferences and stay up-to-date with the latest trends, you will fall behind your competitors. Continuous education and innovation is what could give your company the competitive edge.
Also when you attend conferences, it’s like attending multiple webinars as you can pick the different sessions you would like to attend throughout the entire conference period. There is also more interaction, because you are not just sitting in front of a computer screen all day. You might think it’s hard to take that much time away in large chunks, but think instead about the benefits you could get through focused learning versus an hour at a time here and there.
When you go to the conferences, remember to have enough business cards and find a way to stay connected to all the new people you meet. We’ve found that a phone app called CardMunch is a fast way to store business cards and easily connects you to your new contacts on LinkedIn right away. And remember that follow-up is key. In the first 24- to 48-hours send your new contacts a note telling them what a pleasure it was to meet them and recall an aspect of the conversation to help identify yourself [that’s another tip from Ferrazzi].
We compiled some of this summer’s best conferences to attend. Download the checklist and see what’s in your neck of the woods. Good luck.