Business leaders rationalize skipping out on these hosted conversations because they are afraid to take time away from their business, and are complacent with being online spectators, streaming content after the fact when they can and following conversations on social media. However, there are several benefits to leaving the office and participating in the impactful conversations conferences offer.
1. Networking. Even in a world connected by technology 24:7, nothing beats the power of a face-to-face conversation. We don’t meet new people and we don’t make impactful, authentic connections by sitting in our office, browsing through LinkedIn. Conferences and networking events gather like-minded individuals in similar fields, interested in the same answers and looking to solve the same problems. Many people attend conferences just for the networking opportunities alone.
These conversations help start and build stronger relationships and make more meaningful connections with our peers, thought leaders in the industry and potential clients. One networking tip: be real; don’t try to sell yourself or your product instantaneously. Don’t be the person who passes out business cards to everyone you meet. That’s like the in-person version of adding seemingly random contacts to your LinkedIn network.
2. Business Development. As you know from your one-on-ones with key clients and partners, face-to-face connections can strengthen sales, align marketing efforts and cement partnerships. A business development strategy should be created in advance to better prioritize and capitalize on networking opportunities.
3. Learning. Panels and speakers provide important information about the latest trends, best practices, and new tools to help run the business. Take a few minutes to stay around afterward and speak to panelists, asking specific questions and making a connection.
4. Trends. Product launches, breaking news or exciting announcements are the norm for conferences. With the buzz heard in the hallway or the luncheon and the press announcements made, conferences allow us to move quickly on the latest information and trends before anyone else does. Also, sharing the information gleaned with your executive team can help internalize the knowledge faster.
5. Thought Leadership. Conferences are a time when leaders of an industry meet to discuss the challenges they are facing and bounce ideas off one another. These conversations help everyone look at a situation from a macro point of view and shed light on the direction in which an industry is headed. This type of exposure is important for driving business growth, but also can help position a CEO as an industry thought leader.
Conferences provide plenty of opportunities to make an impact and build our brand, we just need to be willing to be active and put in the work.