Key factors to consider when choosing to attend a conference

As I start writing, am thinking of the adage that holds true, ‘To reach a goal you have never before attained, you must do things you have never before done.’ With this, let me wish you success and the experience to enjoy new things this year. I am quite positive that with a comprehensive list of things that you want to accomplish, you are ready to take on the year. While we resolve to do different things, we need the resolve to do things differently. I will let that statement sink in for a moment.

Well then, with that thought let me continue. Did you know that one of the most popular resolutions made in 2017 (according to survey by CareerBuilder) include learning something new by attending more seminars or courses etc? This brings me to the crux of this conversation on how do you decide which is the right conference/ summit/ seminar to attend. What is that ONE key deciding factor, you may ask? Let me tell you, there isn’t one, it is a mix of a few critical points that you need to bear in mind.

You should never go to a meeting or make a telephone call without a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve – Steve Jobs

With any task, you want to accomplish in life – be it personal or professional, it is important for you to set clear goals. If you don’t list out your objective of attending a conference, your presence at the event will be futile. MICE industry is on a high growth trajectory1 with an overwhelming number of conferences varying in nature organized month after month. It is solely your discretion which one you choose to attend and which one to give a miss. It’s suffice to say ask as many as possible questions to the organizers. Mostly beginners tend to hold back asking any question to avoid looking foolish. To you I say, no question is a silly question and be sure to clear any doubts that you may have. You will be surprised that people are happy to answer your questions to help you make a decision.

You need to decide on what exactly you want to gain by attending a conference – enhancing your brand awareness, getting exposure to new trends and skills or connecting with industry peers? Once this is done, the next step is to research and choose amongst the many conferences being held and narrow down your choices to determine the right fit for you.

The second most important point for you to remember is the budget. While having said that, please remember that expense doesn’t always equal quality. This brings me to my next point, that is location. It is a smart decision to attend events based locally. If you are willing to travel intercity to attend the summit, you would need to factor in the travel and accommodation costs, which will increase the budget by a significant degree.

Now that you have shortlisted few summits/ events to attend, you must carefully weigh the pros and cons to determine the quality of the event – has it been running for many years now? How well-established is it? Events that are renowned have a certain credibility attached to their name. That is not to say, the inaugural events can be skipped. Find out information on the organizers, go through past testimonials or ask past attendees for feedback. To ascertain what the event has to offer and if it is worth your money and time, request for a post-show report of the previous edition of the event. You will be well-equipped with all the information – the various topics covered under the conference agenda and quality of the speakers, whether the speakers are regionally renowned or internationally based, their background, expertise and if this matches with your line of work. Aside from this, it is crucial to know the attendee profiles visiting to find out whether the target audience is relevant for you to expand your business connections and increase your brand visibility.

Always keep in mind your objective while you evaluate an event that is of interest to you. At the end of it all, most importantly you should be able prove to your management that your connections made and skills you learnt has outweighed the expenditure incurred.

To new beginnings.

1 Conferences and trade shows are predicted to be the largest events in nearly every region, with per event attendee increase ranging from 209 in Asia to 455 in North America (Source – 2016 Global Meetings and Events Forecast)

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

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