Conferences are all about learning something new or expanding your network of connections. Sure, you can rely on LinkedIn and other industry-related sites for this, but there is no replacement for the raw experience of being at an event in person.
Still not convinced you should spend a weekend evening sitting in a conference room? Here are seven reasons why you should reserve a ticket for the next business conference in your area.
You can make connections online, but how many of those are quality connections? Some people have hundreds to thousands of social media friends, but very few of those are followers the person has a strong, long-term connection with.
In-person networking provides opportunities for acquiring higher quality contacts. One survey, in fact, found that 85% of people find face-to-face interactions in conferences and business meetings to be more meaningful than online networking.
To make the most of in-person networking, set a goal to have a meaningful conversation with just five to 10 people. This is a lot more effective than just shaking hands and handing out your business card to 50 people.
Aside from making new business connections, there is also the prospect of forming friendships and even potential romantic interests.
With a conference means a lecture or a seminar of some sorts. While formal presentations can be a bit of a bore at times, they are a great source for keeping up with the latest industry news. You can be the first to learn insider secrets or see upcoming products that have not been publicized yet in industry related publications.
Even if you consider yourself an industry expert, there may be others in the field that are even more knowledgeable with the latest inside information. This is your opportunity to learn from the upper echelon of people that have already cemented their names in the field.
Meet Top Industry Insiders
What would it mean to you to be able to shake hands or directly ask a question to the Bill gates or Steve Jobs of your industry? There is also the raw experience of hearing an established and prominent expert speak in person. This raw experience is the same reason people attend live concerts even though the concert is free on television or online.
In-person meetings with top experts also mean photo opportunities. A picture of you and that high-profile business expert will sure look good on your company website or company social media page.
Learn in a New Environment
It’s not unusual for businesses to hold an occasional outdoor meeting or have a workday somewhere else besides the office. This is done to introduce novelty and something different to the typical, mundane workday. This helps inspire creativity and get people to break out of a rut.
Conferences are also learning opportunities, especially if there are workshops involved. This is a chance to learn something new in a new venue, with a new instructor, and unfamiliar attendees. If you’re a business owner, you can also arrange for your staff to attend a conference and have that constitute as a work day. Staff will look forward to it the way students look forward to going to school when it’s a field trip day.
Volunteer Your Service
Most events are always happy to accept volunteers; after all, it’s help they don’t have to pay for. If you’re fairly knowledgeable in the industry, then perhaps you can volunteer to head a workshop or assist a facilitator.
Even if you are relegated to a menial duty, such as handling registrations, that is still involvement and something you can include in your portfolio. Preferably, though, you want to secure a notable role, such as guest speaker.
Check Out the Hottest Venues
Business aside, attending a conference is also a way to get out of the house and have fun. A lot of events these days are held in notable conference venues that also happen to be historical landmarks or are frequent hotspots for celebrity-hosted parties.
Sites like Venueseeker, BizBash and Cvent contain a thorough listing of contemporary and old-style venues that are often used for business conferences. Most of the facilities listed are located in prominent cities, meaning there is plenty of leisure activities if you’re interested in exploring the area before or after the conference.
Get the Full Conference Experience
Most conferences are also available via livestream. They’re also usually available on YouTube several days after the event.
However, the videos typically only show the main lectures or presentation. If you only care for the informative content, then tuning in remotely may suffice.
However, if you attend in person, you get so much more out of it. With in-person attendance, you get to:
- Enjoy the food and refreshments
- Take part in the entertainment, if provided
- Get your hands on some free event swag
- Socialize with other like-minded attendees
- Check out other hosted activities, such as tradeshow booths and interactive kiosks
Not every event is going to be a roof raiser. Some conferences, however, not only deliver informative content but also create a memorable experience. You don’t want to miss a conference that was outstandingly received because you were “on the fences.”
Dan McCarthy has worked in the event management industry for five years and is currently an event manager for the UK-based company Venueseeker. His portfolio includes many successful event planning projects for companies across various niches. He is currently a regular contributor for his company’s blog site. Follow him on Twitter at @DanCarthy2.