When is the Cost of a Conference or Seminar Worth the Price?

Recently I signed up to go to a Financial Bloggers Conference – FinCon13.  This is the 3rd year Phil has organized the conference for all of we financial bloggers. Spending the money to go was, for me, a no brainer this year. I have relatives in St. Louis where the conference will be held and I also had a coupon code to use against the ticket price AND signed up during the first two sign up days, resulting in a further reduction. Plus, I went last year and FinCon12 was just a tremendous experience and very well put together (thanks Phil and everyone else involved).

But for some, it is more painful to pull the trigger on spending money to attend a conference or a seminar, or to send employee’s to attend.

Before I retired, I was fortunate enough to be sent to industry conferences by several employers. Attending a conference or seminar with hundreds or thousands of like minded people can be a great way to build relationships, learn about new developments in your field, learn new skills, spread the good word about your company or product through interaction, participation and relationship building and yes, even outright advertising.

Based on my experiences, ones for which I personally paid and ones paid by my employers I developed a list of criteria to meet to make your conference or seminar expenditure worth while.

When is the cost of a conference or seminar worth the price?

When you can meet your co-workers, clients, online buddies and potential customers face to face over a shared interest.

No matter how well you work together over the phone, by exchanging emails and correspondence, by teleconferencing, through webinars and other social media forums, it is always easier to understand and interpret someone when you meet face to face. People tend to trust one another more if they have met in person. You can use all of your senses to gather information about each other. It helps you understand each other.

We used to send some of our programming work to Thailand at my last employer. That’s a night and day situation – when it is day here it is night there, so it is really difficult to have good communication. By spending the money to have key members of the corresponding teams visit each others country and work site for a few weeks at a time, the company was able to help the teams understand each other better – because they could meet face to face.

When you come prepared to actively participate.

If you spend the bucks and the time to attend a conference or seminar and do nothing besides sit there and listen, you are not getting full value for the cost.

Attend the extracurricular activities.  Invite someone to eat lunch or dinner with you. Hang out at the bar or in the lobby and meet folks.

Volunteer to help with the event itself. Working together with other volunteers is an excellent way to get to know them.

Offer to speak, or at least ask questions!

Talk to the vendors (and don’t forget the swag collection!) – they should be expert in their field and might open up some new avenues to you.

When you come to meet new people and pick up different ideas.

If you attend a conference or seminar with the idea that you already are an expert and close yourself off to new ideas, you are not getting the full value for the cost.

Anywhere two or more people gather you are apt to learn something. You may find a person that knows exactly what you need to learn, you may even find a mentor (or a protege).

When you can spread the word.

Whether you own your own business or work for someone else’s, when you attend a conference, you represent both yourself and the business. The things you do, the topics you attend, the workshops you teach, the business cards you give out and the activities in which you engage all represent both.

If you present yourself as energetic, friendly, interested and knowledgeable your business and personal reputations will be enhanced, potentially resulting in new customers and offers. If you hide in the corner you won’t be getting full value from the cost of the conference or seminar.

When you can find a couple of millionaires or billionaires to hang with.

Roberta Matuson in her Forbes article If You Want to Be a Billionaire, Start Acting Like One suggests that

“The easiest way to become a billionaire is to start hanging out with other billionaires. Their success will wear off on you.”

She thinks that high powered conferences with like minded people are a great way to meet them.

On our main site www.familymoneyvalues.com we have a calender of events from around the world aimed at affluent families.

When you take action on things you learned.

Many times people go to a conference, get all excited about trying out the new ideas and techniques, yet come home and just don’t – because they are swamped or decide it isn’t worth taking the risk. You won’t get the full benefit of the cost if you aren’t willing to put into practice at least one new trick you learned, or keep in touch with one new person you met.

What kind of conferences do you attend?  How do make sure to get the full value from them?

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