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5 Tips to Get Best Value From an Industry Conference

In the lead-up to the Australian Car Wash Association 2017 Expo, we look into some great tips on how to extract maximum value from your conference experience.

Attending an industry conference takes you away from valuable work hours helping clients, so a truly worthwhile convention should offer great speakers, fresh ideas and potential new business contacts via networking. It’s up to you, however, to extract maximum value from the experience through detailed planning and by adopting a smart strategy so you can get the best return from your financial and physical investment at the conference.

To do this, it is vital to set key takeaways. Are you primarily there to network with other car wash owners or leaders in the industry or increase awareness of your wash, or to learn more about specific technologies and best practices to help your wash grow?

1. Pre-plan meetings

There was a debate about a decade ago that virtual meetings technology would end face-to-face meetings, but that hasn’t happened and people still love to meet and gather together.

What technology has done, is to provide new opportunities to research the contacts you want to make from an attendee list, to reach out to them before the conference, and arrange to meet there.

If you do not know exactly who will be present, at least identify the types of people you want to meet, which will help you to pre-plan the best sessions to attend. Another good idea is to ask for introductions to be made by either the organiser or another attendee.

Many organisers facilitate networking by overlaying ice-breaking functions or using event tech tools to assist with introductions. In summary make your own new connections, engage, learn and grow. Meet the presenters too – let them know what you thought about their content

2. Have a strategy for conference social events

Think about showing up early to social events. Some of the new contacts you make – as well as ones you might previously have known could be at one of the social events which leads to extra networking opportunities. Those who arrive first to meet others who are early arrivals general become the centre of attention. Too often people who show up fashionably late have a hard time breaking into conversation clusters.

Also, if you do go to an event with co-workers, don’t spend the whole time together – you will meet nobody new. A similar no-no to socialising only with colleagues or friends is to hang out with them in the lounge area during plenary or workshop sessions. Instead, see conference time as a chance to begin relationships that could develop into new business contacts.

3. Have an open mind

The worst mistake even seasoned conference attendees make is to go in with a closed mind. There will always be things to learn, even if they’re small gems you can go home with to integrate into your own business. Sometimes, hearing about something you’re already doing, but could do slightly differently, can be a great takeaway. Being open to new ideas that spark new thoughts about innovation is a must.

4. Use a conference as “think time” and leverage the experience

One of the great benefits of attending conferences is that it gives you the opportunity to spend time working on and thinking about your business. Don’t undermine this time by:

  • Emailing or texting during sessions rather than engaging with content
  • Not visiting exhibitors
  • Not studying the program ahead and working out which sessions to attend
  • Not having a plan to achieve what you (or your employer) want from the conference

In other words don’t waste the chance to leverage the experience. Engage, learn and after the event reconnect. Do the follow-up work to get the best from your experience.

5. Be smart about post-conference follow-up

Follow-up is not something many delegates do well – if at all. We often say we are going to follow-up on things but this rarely happens. So follow up with a plan. Effective networking does not usually take place at a conference – it’s in what you do after.

Too many people miss the return on investment from events because they either do not follow-up with people they meet, or worse, send out a bulk email. It can take years to build a business relationship, but most people hope a quick meeting at a conference and a follow-up on social media will constitute a meaningful connection but it’s rarely ever that easy.

A smart conference strategy will give you new ideas and contacts, and make the experience much more enjoyable and thought-provoking. In other words follow the 5 P’s and take on board these tips for your ACWA Expo 2017 experience.

Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

And don’t forget to come and say hello to Prowash and learn more about Quest contactless payment system at booth #37!


Date Published: 11 October 2017