What I learned from attending industry conferences

Where are you going to find like-minded people in the same profession as yours? Industry conferences, that’s where! 

Sometimes it’s a doozy one-day local event and sometimes it can be a two-day extravaganza happening interstate. 

Either way, you’re attending a high-standard event and being associated with a high-standard community of professionals in your field. 

As conferences make their return, it’s timely to cover a few things from my experience attending industry conferences. 

Cool Technology

Event apps work really well. I would be walking around, phone in hand and I would receive a notification that the next speaker is presenting soon. The app also contributes to a sense of connection – makes it easy and fun for people to share their thoughts in the discussion forum while listening to the speakers. And it saves the old school ink and paper too. Everyone has a smartphone nowadays, they will just click away. 

Eye-catching stands

Got a stand at an event? Is your stand irresistible for people? The design of the stand needs to be taken into consideration. Make sure there’s a clear incentive for people to visit your stand and get to know you more. Investing in a photo booth or a claw machine, for instance, makes people feel that glow of connection to your brand. So it would be way less of a big deal for them to say “Ok, I like what you’re doing, send me an email about it later when I’m not dealing with a crowd to see it”.

Chinwag sessions

You’ve got a sweet face-to-face opportunity to talk to other clever minds and make quick digital connections. If you’re an introvert like myself, walking into a room full of people can be quite intimidating. A good starting strategy is a smile and your natural curiosity. A smile will make you seem approachable. And when you’re curious, you’re going to want to approach others to learn more about them. So stand up straight, drink in hand, smile on your face (and in your eyes) and ask all the questions. 

 Relevant Topics

Conferences can be inspiring places. They allow you to tap into what’s happening, pick up on trends, new tools and ideas. If you genuinely want to learn, get relevant and useful business advice, then you should sit through every session, engage in the discussion & live Q&As. 

The content of these conferences, however, should be less about self-help and focus more on practical strategies such as: How to grow and market a mortgage broking business, how to improve employee retention and the valuable experiences for newer businesses…These things just can’t be learnt on the internet. 

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin.

Merchandise 

The merch varieties certainly made an impression on me. A personalised merch is guaranteed to make its way into my personal collection. From what I saw, people are definitely there to get their mitts on cool merch. Brands should pay attention to what people are picking up. Do more people pick up personalised bottles than pens? Are squishy stress balls more popular than notepads? 

Food and drinks

Delicious food and coffee are among the elements that make a wonderful event. But too many times, I’ve seen people attending conferences and not eating, they are flat out with catch-ups and don’t want to talk with their mouths full. And nothing screams “I’m uncomfortable” like the few loners standing and eating in the corner at the conference. Obviously, you don’t want your event attendees to walk around with grumbling tums and feeling parched. What they need is a dedicated space where they can stop for a moment and sit down to enjoy a plate of nosh. 

So those are my thoughts exactly. Organising an industry event is not just about renting a venue. As you open the doors to people, you want to make sure people actually have a good time and get the most out of it. Lots of lessons on how to do it well. What else do you reckon would make a successful event in your opinion? Comment down below! 

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