The Internet offers unlimited opportunities to learn, share ideas, ask questions, collaborate, research, and connect – so why does your business need to attend a conference?
For starters, face-to-face requests are 34 times more likely to convert than email requests, so your calls to action may hold more weight in person. When you attend a conference, it allows you to engage with your industry and cultivate both your digital and organic communities. We highlight the best reasons for conference attendance:
Attend a Conference: 7 Reasons Why
1. New ideas
Discover new ideas and approaches by participating in conference conversations. Ask questions, take notes, and prepare for each day’s topic of interest because no matter how experienced someone might be, there’s always room for growth. Working within a small business can occasionally be isolating, and without exposure to differing points of view, companies may overlook new ideas and trends that have the potential to impact future success. The research and conversation experienced through conference attendance can lead to not only new ideas but new connections.
Conference attendance provides a compelling opportunity to network and make connections on a personal level. Good conferences encourage attendees to mix and mingle, form new relationships, and strengthen existing ones. Competitors from other areas can become valuable resources for referrals and best-practices.
Through conference attendance, you can meet and talk with strangers without the feeling of awkwardness. Seminar discussions offer the chance to debate issues related to the field, share experiences, and exchange perspectives that encourage connection on an even deeper level. Approach networking with a collaborative mindset, in which genuine, engaging conversations will cultivate meaningful and lasting relationships.
While some attendee’s intentions can seem suspect, most conference members can help others uncover ideas, spark inspiration, and maybe even discover problem-solving tools.
3. New Tools
By sharing experiences, stories, and struggles with vendors, conference attendees can find new tools to solve their industry problems; vendors sell products that are industry-specific and have a greater understanding of what’s happening within the competition, so they hold valuable insight into your field.
Vendors are some of the best people to speak with about the current business climate. Too often individuals attending conferences shy away from the trade show exhibit hall. Don’t be that person! Browsing through these areas enables attendees to discover innovative products and services, which is necessary to stay competitive in today’s growing market. Invest time with vendors and turn those acquaintances into strategic connections—you might even find yourself feeling slightly inspired.
4. Renewed Motivation
It’s easy for individuals to lose motivation or excitement about a job after a while; conference attendance provides the opportunity to become inspired again. Use the event to get away, immerse yourself in industry topics you’re genuinely passionate about, and participate in stimulating conversations. Conference attendance can rekindle enthusiasm and renew motivation to pursue goals, which can lead to higher productivity!
5. Speaking Engagements
Conference attendance allows members to speak or to write articles for their industry publications—a perfect opportunity to develop your reputation as an expert among peers and clients. Conference attendees will be naturally drawn to industry experts and want to connect with you; and if you hold a meaningful, favorable position within your industry, they will feel particularly good about conducting business with you. Being a keynote speaker at a conference not only increases brand awareness but also builds trust–making potential clients more likely to respond favorably to a sales pitch down the road. If your marketing budget allows, consider exhibiting to provide a space for inspired individuals to speak with you.
6. Opportunity to Exhibit
Conference attendance provides businesses the opportunity to exhibit during the trade show portion. To stand out from other exhibitors at the event, companies should create a booth with strong branding and engaging visuals. Spending time and energy developing booth materials that target attendees of each event will help to ensure success. Connecting with a marketing list and inviting these individuals to arrange a meeting or demo at your booth is also a great networking technique.
Having a booth not only means inviting attendees to network, but it may also require some additional incentive as well. Conference swag is a smart way to not only incentivize attendees to visit your business’s booth, but also a strategy towards building brand awareness. Creating a swag bag that’s personalized to your business and handing it out to those who are visiting will help them remember your brand, and reach out in the future – especially if the swag is clever or unique. Conference attendance provides the opportunity to build buzz about your brand not only through booths, incentives, and word of mouth but by media coverage.
7. Secure Media Coverage
Lastly, conference attendance provides opportunities for media coverage surrounding businesses. Most larger industry events and conferences typically invite media coverage – and those from the media will be actively searching for stories or individuals to interview. Companies can also market themselves before and after the conference by personally crafting press releases and articles surrounding both the event and those within the company that is attending or speaking to strategize their media coverage.
Media exposure through conference attendance not only generates on-site visibility but also gives businesses the opportunity to cultivate stronger relationships with media. When a face-to-face connection is already established, journalists are more likely to cover a speech or talk.
As with developing an engaging speaking topic, it’s essential to create an exciting media angle before pitching to secure the most coverage possible. Is your business attending the conference to launch a new product? Has the company switched gears in a new strategic direction? Is the industry hosting an event at the booth, or giving anything away? Increase your chances of grabbing the attention of journalists through conference attendance by securing media coverage.
Weighing the pros and cons of attending a conference is a great way to see if it’s right for your business. Understanding conference expenses, benefits, and quantifying the benefits will create a clear path forward for your company.