How to Prepare for A Business Conference
By Michael Taylor
I don’t typically write about business topics, but I’ll be traveling to St. Louis next week to attend my first financial bloggers conference, FinCon13. I’ve done some research on how to prepare for a business conference and wanted to share what I’ve learned with you. Part of being financially free is also being able to do what you love. Who knows, maybe you want to be a blogger also. Or maybe you already have a career you love and you have a business conference coming up. In today’s post I’ll outline what I am doing to make the most of the conference. These tips can be applied to any type of conference whether it’s a bloggers conference or a business trade show of some type.
First, A Big Thank You!
Before I get into the tips I’d like to thank a couple of people for enabling me to go to the conference - Philip Taylor from ptmoney.com and Jason Price from jasonrprice.com.
To help you get to know Jason here’s a quote from Jason’s About page:
Jason Price is a husband, dad, and budget coach passionate about personal finance, stewardship, drinking coffee, soccer and the Pacific sun. The mission of this website is to encourage people to enjoy life without compromising smart financial decisions. Enjoy life, budget smart!
And Philip’s About page quote:
Hi, I’m Philip Taylor. I’m a husband, father, blogger, and entrepreneur. I love learning to do more with my money and sharing it all here with you. Join in on the conversation and start improving your financial life today
Philip is actually the founder and creator of the financial bloggers conference known as FinCon. It’s because of these two guys that I’m going to FinCon13. Jason had a couple of extra tickets he wanted to donate to someone and and let Philip know they were available. Philip tweeted out on Twitter they were available and I responded with an interest in one of the tickets and the rest is history.
Thanks Philip and Jason! I really appreciate it!
Let the Preparations Begin
Since this is my first conference I started preparing by doing a little research. I want to make the best of the opportunity. Here are a couple of good resources I used to understand how to prepare for a business conference:
From thinktraffic.net - Rethinking How To Get More Traffic (FS022). In this podcast episode Caleb Wojcik references a post he wrote on how to make the best of a conference. I also referenced a blog post recently written by Dan Miller at 48Days.com titled Tweak your “What do you do?” response and pay off your mortgage
The main points I got from these references are:
- Know your elevator pitch – “What do you do?”
- Research the keynote speakers and people of interest ahead of time.
- Don’t just focus on the superstars. Research other attendees as well.
- Network during the conference. Don’t be shy!
- Follow up with the people you meet after the conference. Keep those connections alive.
What’s My Elevator Speech
Dan Miller from 48Days.com recently wrote a blog post that provided an excellent outline of how to define what you do. The premise of the technique is to communicate the value that you bring to the world rather than just to talk about what you do for a living. Here’s the process that Dan recommends when introducing yourself:
- What problem does my expertise solve?
- What in my background has prepared me for being excellent in this area?
- Here’s a specific time when I used those skills.
- Call to Action: Here’s how my skills would fit in here?
He also provides a template to help make the concept a little more concrete.
I help _____________________________________________________
So that they can _____________________________________________
You fill in the blanks!
Given Dan’s awesome advice, here it is, my elevator speech:
Hi, I’m Michael Taylor and I help families struggling in debt understand how to be intentional with their money and break the cycle of debt so they can pursue a life of financial freedom and work they love. If you know a family looking for some financial margin in their lives, let me know.
There’s actually a speed networking event at FinCon13. I’ve never done one. That’ll be interesting. :-)
Keynote Speakers and People of Interest
Let’s face it, the keynote speakers at conferences like this are people you model and hope to achieve their success some day. This conference is no exception. FinCon13 will have Pat Flynn, Jean Chatzky and Derek Halpern as their keynote speakers. Let’s look at the statistics:
- Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income
- 69,700 Twitter followers
- Jean Chatzky from JeanChatzky.com
- 29,300 Twitter followers
- Derek Halpern from Social Triggers
- 34,800 Twitter followers
I think it’s safe to say that time with these guys (and gals) comes at a premium. Guess what, I am doing a dinner meetup with Pat Flynn along with 39 other lucky financial bloggers for $5! The $5 is for a tip for the waiters/waitresses. That’s a pretty good deal considering I will have a chance to meet Pat, get to know him a little on a personal level and talk shop.
If you have an opportunity like this make sure you do your homework ahead of time to take full advantage of the event.
What can you do to prepare?
- Read their blog.
- Know their story.
- Know what they are working on now/next.
- Prepare questions you want to ask them ahead of time. Don’t waste the free advice you can get that they would normally charge a lot of money for.
- Are any of the keynote speakers attending going to any of the smaller breakout sessions? Strategically plan to attend one of those for increased exposure, but don’t stalk them. This is an opportunity to connect with them on a more personal level a second time.
Attending a conference like this is obviously an opportunity to learn how to grow your business, but it’s also an opportunity to connect with other like-minded people. I’m doing what I can to make sure I am prepared. Hopefully, you’ll do the same.
Do Some Research On Some Of The Other Bloggers
I’ve kind of focused on the superstars. However, this all applies to the newbie bloggers just like me. Don’t just focus on the superstars. Learn about the new and up-and-comer guys just like yourself. This is an opportunity to connect with people at the same point in the journey you are. Personally, I think it would be awesome to connect with someone and be able to collaborate with each other as our businesses grow and mature.
Networking….. This is outside of my comfort zone. As I get mentally prepared I am telling myself:
- Don’t be shy.
- Take the opportunity to connect with a lot of people.
- Don’t just ask people what they do, ask them what they do for fun too.
I am looking forward to meeting a lot of people. However, I am a little apprehensive about it too. Whatever happens, I know it’s going to be fun!
After the Conference
Now that you’ve went to the conference and met a lot of people you need a plan for after the conference. Here are some tips to keep the connections alive after you go home.
- Start following up with people immediately. Do it slowly and with purpose.
- Do some research on the people you meet to better get to know them and their business.
- Figure out what you can do to help them in their business, not what they can do to help your business. Reach out and offer to help them.
- Plan on writing a summary post after the event. This will help you document who you met, what you learned and how to apply that to your business.
Are you attending FinCon13 or some other business conference soon? What are you doing to prepare? Maybe you’ve been to a conference in the past and have some more tips on how to prepare for a business conference that I didn’t cover. Leave me a comment below. I’ll take all of the tips I can get!
photo credit: meetingspodcast
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