Wherever you are in the financial industry, conferences are part of the business. Conferences can hold a great deal of growth value for businesses and professionals but in many cases, the cost and context can easily lead to a sense of pressure or expectation for return on investment and valuable leads or connections. It’s important to remember that while those things are sometimes immediately and measurably clear, sometimes they’re not. Sometimes the value is in the longer-term relationships being built or dots being connected. With all that in mind, here are five ways to capitalize on the many opportunities that conferences offer.
1. Prepare in Advance
One clear opportunity conferences offer is face-to-face networking. However you mentally prepare for potential conversations and talking points, it’s always a good idea to have a business card and elevator pitch ready. Any other print or digital marketing materials should be ready as well, which may take some forethought and coordination several weeks in advance if those items need to be created or updated. Additionally, it’s a good idea to update your LinkedIn profile and online presence if it’s been a while, as the sudden boost in networking connections will likely mean a sudden boost in traffic to your website and/or profile.
2. Pre-Network Online
Promoting your attendance on social media and making use of the conference hashtag are prime ways to start pre-networking and making a plan for who you want to meet and the sessions you want to attend while you’re there. Following these types of threads and participating in online networking will also help prepare you with some extra talking points for when you’re connecting in person. Maybe you noticed a promotion, liked an article, enjoyed a joke, or were inspired by an activity. These are all potential conversation starters you can bring up as well as reference points for new connections or reconnections with conference peers.
3. Find the Hidden Value
To extract the most value from the educational sessions, take notes and jot down ideas that come to mind or insights to draw from later. If the learning opportunities can double toward certification credits, a post-conference presentation for your company, content ideas for your blog, or important contributions for your team, then the worth becomes exponentially greater. Another way to find value is to volunteer to get involved in presenting, moderating, or helping in some way with the conference. While you don’t want to use your phone as a crutch, there is hidden value in taking photos and engaging with the conference hashtag during the conference as well. (Just restrict it to the right times so you don’t detract from the value of face-to-face time.)
4. Remember Delayed Reciprocity
As you move through the conference wondering whether your efforts are worthwhile, keep in mind the concept of delayed reciprocity. Even if showing up, being authentic, and listening well is all you accomplish, valuable connections are still being made. As one speaker noted in the TED Talk, “An Introvert’s Guide to Networking,” sometimes just creating “dots” is valuable in and of itself. You may not connect the dots until you’ve gone home, had time to reflect, or followed up, but your introduction to one new connection could lead to a later connection to another person not yet in your network. That one new connection could mean a job, a deal, a recommendation, a contract, etc. The same applies to your interactions with others; what goes around comes around. So if you’re new and feel like your presence doesn’t matter, it probably does matter more than you know. Ask good questions, be a good listener, put away your phone, never eat alone, and engage as fully as possible while the chance is there.
5. “Unpack” Thoughts Post-Conference
After the conference, chances are there will be a lot of information rattling around in your brain. Whether you take notes digitally or by hand, “unpacking” that information before it’s lost is time well spent. Plan follow-ups, add notes to your contact lists, and write down points or questions you want to bring up with your team or for further learning. Starting to “connect the dots” while all the information and experiences are still fresh in your mind (and everyone else’s) will give you a solid leg up on making the most of the experience post-conference.
If your business needs assistance with website design, social media strategy, content creation, print material, or conference booth preparation, have a look at the services and work by Branding Arc, a full-services digital marketing firm in the financial services industry. We invite you to contact [email protected] with questions or for a free consultation.
About Branding Arc
Located in Port Saint Lucie, FL, Branding Arc is a full-service marketing agency focused on providing website, marketing, and reputation management services to the receivables management and financial services industries. Our team is composed of communications and branding experts who listen to your vision, learn your story, and use that understanding to help each client position their brand, find new customers, and manage their online reputation. We customize each client engagement ranging from simple one-time projects to the outsourcing of your entire marketing department, adeptly handling creative direction, graphic design, programming, and project management. By closely monitoring the marketplace and competition, we can identify trends and leverage opportunities that drive bottom-line revenue for our clients.