Thursday, September 18, 2008

Being Productive at Business Conferences

Attending business conferences is a great way to check out from the office, put deadline stress on hold and hang out at a luxury hotel, get in some golf, indulge at a spa, and attend some hosted receptions (i.e., party). But after it's over, what did you accomplish beside turn in an expense report?

Many of my clients ask if attending conferences is useful for growing their practice or marketing themselves -- my short answer is "yes". This advise from Matt Homann over at "the [non]billable hour" is pretty close to how I might answer the question. In particular I appreciated Matt's comments about whom to seek out at an event:
"The most important people at the conference are sitting next to you. Think Tom Peters gives a rat’s ass about your new business strategy? Is Seth Godin going to give you personalized marketing advice? Of course not. The people at any event who are most likely to have already faced your challenges (and maybe even solved them) aren’t the highly-paid keynoters, but rather your fellow attendees. They are like you. They can help you. Ignore them at your peril."
Some of the most important people in my Rolodex are those I met at conferences around the country. They are high on my list of people to contact when I face client and marketing challenges -- and they have not been shy about reaching out to me. Often their call has resulted in new business for me, and every time it has been a growth experience.

I encourage you to read and heed Matt's advise.