How to get the most out of attending business conferences

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The Australasian Association of Professional Organisers’ Carolyn Verhoef and Roz Howland offers five tips to help SME owners and their staff get the most of attending business conferences and events.

If you or your staff members often attend business conferences and events but you don’t see the benefits come to fruition thereafter, you’re not alone. Carolyn Verhoef of the Australasian Association of Professional Organisers (AAPO) says too often people leave a conference feeling inspired to take action but once the regular day to day running of their business takes over, little is achieved.

“Attending a conference can be an expensive exercise – not just in money terms but also your time,” Verhoef explains. “So the AAPO has developed five tips to help you save money and time by getting the most out of attending a conference.”Business_ConferenceLG

Here’s the AAPO’s advice on how you can make the next business conference you attend worth your time and money:

Be clear on why you want to attend
Think hard about why you want to attend a particular conference. Is it the topics being covered? The networking opportunities? The trade displays? What solutions are you currently seeking in your business?

Plan networking in advance

What sort of people would you like to meet at a conference? A week or so before the conference, contact the conference organisers and ask for a list of attendees and company names. Contact those who you’d like to meet at the conference in advance and lock in a time to meet up. Otherwise, networking opportunities may pass you by.

Take notes
Taking notes, or a simple mind map during the conference sessions, helps you to concentrate on what’s being said. After each speaker, ask yourself what the key message was and write it down. Write down your actions or next steps and the date to achieve them by in your diary as this will help keep your focus. At the end of the conference reflect on the key messages and write down a handful of key learnings and prioritise your actions for the first 48 hours after the conference.

Share your learnings
Rather than keep your learnings to yourself, why not share them with work colleagues and acquaintances with similar interests? Social media has also opened up more avenues to do this quickly and easily. Knowing you’ll share your learnings can help keep your mind focused during the conference.

Choose your outcome
Ask yourself how you want to make this conference different to other ones. Make a list of what you’d like more of from this conference; for example, more networking, and how you’d like to feel when you’re back into your daily business activity.

AAPO President Roz Howland, adds that we’re bombarded with ideas, new people and things happening at conferences and business owners need to make sure they find measurable value in investing their time, money and energy in attending a conference

“I recommended people pick two ideas, the ones that resonate with them the most, and work out the actions that need to be taken to achieve them. These actions should be acted within 48 hours of being home.”

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