When you register for a conference or join a mastermind group, not only are you committing to money out of pocket now, you are booking time out of your busy schedule later. In the world of entrepreneurs, that's a huge commitment. So let's talk about how to get the most bang for your proverbial buck.
If you look at event attendance like you do your marketing plan, you'll want to get the most ROI (return on investment) possible. For a marketing piece or campaign, if it costs you $500 and it brings in $200, you probably don't do it exactly the same way again (or hopefully you don't!). On the other hand, if the marketing campaign costs you $500 and brings in $10,000, you'll do it all day long.
You can apply the same principles to event attendance. ROI for an event can be measured in income, or contacts made, or resources gained, or nuggets discovered. Keep them all in mind when you're preparing to attend.
Here are 7 ways get the best ROI on a conference, seminar, or mastermind meeting:
1. Plan ahead.
I don't mean booking your flight or packing your suitcase; you've got that covered, I'm sure. I mean think hard about why you are going to this event and what you want to get out of it. Do your research on who will be there for presenters and attendees.
2. Go with goals
Go with very specific goals. Waiting till you arrive at the registration table is too late to squeeze every last ounce of value from this event. What problems will you look for solutions to and how will you do that? Go with overall goals for the event. Go with specific goals for sessions, vendors, and networking.
3. Plan offline meetings and networking opportunities
Who will you speak with and what result do you want from the conversation? Who can you JV (joint venture) with? Who can you offer a solution to that will benefit you both? Who can you take to lunch or dinner to explore for future benefit?
4. Connect with the guru
Introduce yourself. Help the guru know who you are, what you do, what you can do for them. Ask intelligent questions. The guru at your event has a wider and different circle of influence and resources than you do. If they are smart and impressed with you, they will keep you in the back of their mind for a fit with someone in their network or even with themselves. Take them to breakfast or lunch or dinner. Send them a handwritten thank-you or even a gift after the event in appreciation of their time and expertise. Most people don't do this; you'll stand out in a crowd.
5. Walk the halls
You'd be surprised how many people attend a conference or seminar for what happens in the hallways, not what happens in the event session rooms. More business is done in the hallways with spontaneous networking than you can imagine. Pay attention to who's attending and what they are known for, then connect with them. If there's a fit, pursue it. Keep in mind how you can help them solve a challenge they have; don't just try to sell them on your services. It's all about relationship and giving value first.
6. Work the exhibitors
Vendors are there to sell you something. No kidding, everyone knows that. But they also have a wealth of information to share. You might only need one great nugget for the next big opportunity for your business. Or you might find the exact solution to a challenge you've been wrestling with. Maybe their business model is applicable to your industry and is simpler and sleeker than yours. Listen to their pitch on three levels - how they can help you, how you can help them, and how their business model or techniques are applicable to your business. Ask questions on all levels.
7. Stay the extra night
Fly out the day after the seminar ends. Don't hide out in the hotel room. Find out who else is staying and set up a get-together for networking, group or individual, or set up a meeting to hammer out a JV agreement. If all else fails, review your notes and set a plan with a timeline so you can hit the ground running when you return to the office. Call your assistant and get them started on the highest priorities on your plan.
Try this at the next event you're attending - your ROI will be much more impressive this time.
To your best success,
Coach Keith Young