Are Business Conferences Important?

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It’s a common misconception that businesses conferences are simply excuses to get away from home for a few day, stay in a posh hotel, have some fun with colleagues and generally live the high life on the company dime.

That is mostly wishful thinking, and pretty unrealistic.

More often than not business conferences are hard working environments beneficial to both the attendees and the hosting organization.

Here are a couple of reasons:

  • In the normal grind of office routines it can be incredibly hard to get a large number of people together in one spot and provide them with the right environment that allows them to get creative.  Innovative and ‘out of the box’ problem solving doesn’t happen when employees have the huge pressures of their day to day work load to contend with.  They get lost in the routine of it all.
  • Despite modern business management theories trying to change the status quo there is still territorial positioning and friction in modern offices.  When one department is pitted against another for budget allocations and productivity it doesn’t lead to free thinking and problem solving.  Most departments who are justifying their expenses aren’t particularly concerned with how to radically improve business practices.
  • The right business conference center with good facilities gives attendees a place to build networks and professional relationships in relaxed atmospheres.  During the normal work week it can be hard to do this your staff are bogged down with day to day minutiae.
  • Despite how you try and structure your organization, with open door policies and the like, there is still a hierarchical structure in place and it is felt most strongly within the offices.  A well designed and professionally facilitated conference is a more relaxed atmosphere and more egalitarian between employees and management.  It can help build stronger relationships within the organization as well.
  • Being chosen to attend a conference away from the office also offers a psychological benefit to the employee, it indicates the company values them as a contributor.  They get to spend time in a different location as a representative of the company and their opinions are valued.

Yes, there is the occasional conference that is simply an excuse to have a party on the organizers dime.  However, it’s not uncommon for the conversation to turn to talking shop at some point.

The challenge for the event organizer is to put together a conference that is entertaining and engaging while still meeting the goals of having businesses connect.  Selecting the right Calgary Conference Center and setting a full and productive agenda can help ensure that a conference is successful.

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Here is a video showing you how to effectively network at your next business conference:

 


Get the Most From Your Small Business Conference

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If you’re going to attend a small business conference you should get your money’s worth from the event.  The best way get the most from the conference is to follow up with the contacts you met there, develop new relationships and cultivate opportunities.  Here is how you do it.

Bring back useful information

Bring back contact information for potential business down the road.  If you missed any of the speeches or sessions that you wanted to attend, see if you are able to get recordings or video links.

Put together a plan

Leveraging a business conference needs a solid plan for everything you need to follow up on.  Include in this plan, your goals, if your goals include securing more distribution channels then follow up with distributors that you have met.  Having a plan will allow you to maximize potential business opportunities, build relationships and take advantage of what you learned at the conference.  Review the plan and make sure you have included every contact and how you’d like to reach out to them.

Go over the business cards you collected and if you made notes on the back add all of this to your plan.  Review the notes you took during the workshop or conferences, note which items will need follow up.  Now you have a list of tasks that you can prioritize and take some action on.  If you attended small business conferences regularly, create a template for yourself to streamline this whole process.

Send thank-you notes

It’s an old school method that still works and it’s a great way to reinforce relationships.  Thanks the people you met at the conference for sharing their thoughts and for taking the opportunity to introduce themselves and their companies.  If you were fortunate enough to meet panelists, presenters or speakers thank them for taking the time to share their insights.  Sending a thank you note will set you apart from the rest of the attendees who were there and you can make some great high profile contacts.

Get on the phone

Thank you notes are great and it’s flattering to receive them, nothing beats a phone call.  You have the opportunity to revisit discussions you had at the conference and capitalize on potential opportunities.  Despite the advances in technology a telephone is still your best tool for finding new business.

Send out materials

If you had promised to send anybody promotional materials or price quotes then send them out as soon as possible.  This should be done in the week immediately following the conference.

Share the spoils

After returning from a conference it’s time to sit down with colleagues and staff and convey everything that you learned.  Highlight the important speeches and workshops, go over any new developments and opportunities.  Discuss the things that will require follow up or any other action.  Go over your plan and coordinate with those that can help you implement it.

You now have a method to get the most value from your small business conferences, a few strategies and the conference can become a great tool for generating more leads and ultimately more clients.