The Ultimate Checklist For Attending An Exhibition Or Conference
Are you attending a conference or exhibition for your business this year? Or maybe you're still at the planning stage? Well, as you're already aware, there's more to booking and attending a conference or event than just picking one, booking and turning up!
Allow us to run you through the most important things to consider when planning an event visit.
Choose the right conference
When it comes to choosing which conference to attend, it’s important to look at what value you can get out of it before you consider what distance you’ll have to travel. Weigh up which conference in your industry you will get the most benefit from. Making a comparison list can help you make the right decision.
Research the speakers
As the conference approaches, most events will release a full list of speakers in advance. If you’ve registered and received the list, make sure you get to see the most pertinent speakers to you, by really taking your time to do your research on them. The most important thing is that you come away with some real insight and actionable information.
Be realistic with your time
You probably won’t be able to see everyone and everything. Make sure you’re smart with your time and schedule your day for the most important takeaways.
Connect on social
If you’re not already in industry relevant groups on social media, it’s time to do so now. Join your conference page (be on the lookout for discounts and offers!). Once you have chosen your speakers and know what you hope to gain from their talks, add them on social too. Engage and share their posts/tweets- you never know if you might get a chance to speak with them person-to-person at the conference.
Learn about the area
Are you going somewhere unknown to you? Maybe even out of the country? It’s important to do a bit of forward thinking when it comes to language, culture and even what type of restaurants and shops are in a place. Research public transport and important numbers like taxis, to limit the risk of being caught short.
Explore funding options
An important part of getting the go-ahead from your boss, is doing all the above. Make sure you can show your planning and the benefits the company will gain out of the conference, in a coherent and well-planned way and you’re sure to get the go-ahead.
Accommodation and flights
It’s a good idea to research this before you book your conference tickets. Using comparison websites is the quickest way to see a good cross-section of pricing and availability when it comes to booking flights and hotels.
At The Conference
We don’t need to tell you how important networking is in any industry. It can definitely be said that much of the value of a conference can be found in its networking opportunities. Use as much time as you can spare making new connections and nurturing old ones.
Easier said than done when you’ve had a long day (and quite possibly have jet-lag!). You will want to get as much value out of your experience as possible, so it’s very important to try and stay focused.
This will help with the above point. It has been proven that the act of taking notes allows you to process the information you are hearing more effectively (even if you never read the notes back!). If you’re the sort of person that really struggles to keep focus for longer periods of time, it’s advisable to take some sort of recording device, so you can listen back when you’re more awake. (be aware that most conferences won’t allow video filming).
Bring your business card
Seems obvious, but it’s something we often forget when we’re planning a work event or outing. Business cards are so important for networking, and a nicely designed business card can make or break an introduction.
After The Conference
Write it up
If you took notes at your conference, now’s the time to read through them and write up what you learned from each talk. Some people prefer to do this in the evening after a day of talks, but you’ll hopefully be too busy networking for that!
Don’t let those business cards and hastily scribbled connections go to waste. Add them on Linked-in and Twitter; send them an email telling them how nice it was to meet them, and keep in touch with them- especially if you can see a way to collaborate in the future.
Share with the team
Talk with your team afterwards, or even give a little talk if you feel comfortable doing so. It’s good to share with your colleagues the most important take-aways from the conference, so everyone on the team can get the same valuable insight that you did.
Use your new connections and the write-ups of your experience and insights to the best advantage. If you have a company blog, make sure you post about the talks- including the links to speakers and connections. Get your new conference pals and speakers to share this content for you on social media or even link to your article on their websites.
Start planning for next year!
It’s never too early to start researching for next year. Maybe there’s a speaker you particularly liked, who is doing a talk somewhere else next year. Or perhaps someone suggested another conference while you were networking. Most importantly, where can you get the most value and actionable information for yourself and your company.