5 Steps to Achieving Great Value from Industry Conferences

February through April seems to be when all the technology associations plan their parties, conferences, and roadshows. While the travel can be hectic, I personally enjoy most of these events. Even through the constant chatter of cloud and managed services, I find the events refreshing for me; they serve as a recharge and a break from the normal office routine.

Every conference I go to, I can always find golden nuggets to take back. Though they are sometimes buried in a humdrum of garbage, finding them makes the time worth it. Even though these events are a mental recharge, they can be physically taxing. Sometimes starting in the wee hours of the morning and continuing past midnight.

In order to make the most of these events and make sure that I am not wasting the time, nor the money (both are very important to me), let me offer a few suggestions that I like to practice:

1.      Make Goals

If you decide what you are looking for before you go, you will likely find a lot more. If you go with just the intention of learning, you may be taught a lot, but it may not be as applicable, or as powerful, if you do not go with a specific goal in mind. Write down 3 to 5 goals for the conference and review these each morning.

2.      Target Key Individuals

I have had some amazing lunches and dinners with important and highly successful speakers and CEO’s just by planning ahead and asking if I could buy them a meal or a drink. These conferences are busy for them, just as they are for you. By targeting some individuals, explaining why you want to chat and by giving them huge compliments, you will be more likely to make an impression on them.

3.      Target Key Sponsors and Vendors

There usually is not a better time to get a face-to-face with a critical vendor that you use, than at a conference. Make a list of questions of things you need to find out, problems you are having, anything that will make your time with that vendor successful.

4.      Travel Light

Bring whatever you want to the hotel, but travel lightly to the show. Many of these shows are in major conference venues. Hauling around your laptop, IPAD, NetBook, Phone, a notepad, accessories, and all the conference materials through miles of hallways, is not something that makes most people cheery and it is not conducive to keeping your mind alert to opportunities.

5.      Be Temperate In All Things!

Yeah …don’t act like you don’t know what I am talking about. I have been to some shows where the morning speaker looked out at a scarce audience because of the late-night, heavy drinking the night before. It costs plenty of money to go to these events; you might as well get value for your business from them.

Following these steps will help guarantee that your time and money was well spent and that you leave in a better state then you went in. Have any other tips? Please share them below.