However digital we get, nothing quite beats face to face contact. Conferences are an excellent way to ask questions, find out about new innovative products, and make yourself known to the people that matter.

However there are also downsides, including high costs, both in terms of people-power and commissioning materials. On the other hand, if done right, the ROI can be fantastic.

Here are our tips, to make sure you make the most of any conference.

Before Accepting

  • First of all, make sure you are attending the most relevant conference to your business. Don't be afraid to ask for a list of delegates.
  • Read around the conference, find out from other people who have previously attended it whether they found it useful, and why.
  • Try and book a speaker slot as well as an exhibition stand, to maximize opportunities. However, don't book one just for the sake of it, make sure you have something useful to contribute.

Planning

  • Decide on a strategy. Most people will decide on a particular angle. Modern Law at Legalex for instance had a flight simulator with their staff walking around in pilot uniforms. Was it a bit gimmicky? Sure! Did it work? Hell yes! You don't have to go that far of course, but finding a focus will make your stand much more appealing.
  • This extends to your marketing material, make sure it's relevant to your business. It's all very well enticing people to your stand with free champagne, but if they leave with no interest or understanding of what you do, then you have failed.
  • Try to think beyond pens. I love free pens as much as the next person but they're not memorable.

On the day

  • Focus on quality rather than quantity. Many stands will have fishbowls full of business cards, but how many of these will really translate into leads? It's far better to take the time to really engage with people: find out what they do, discuss what you do, and it's likely a much more valuable partnership will emerge.
  • If you do exchange business cards, make sure to write a few details about the person on it so that you can recall it freshly a few days later.
  • Take the time to document the conference on social media, it is often people's first port of call when deciding where to head to.
  • Wear flat comfortable shoes. Always.

Aftermath

  • Do get in touch with the people you've met.
  • Do write a report about the event and publish it online.
  • Do take time to recover and evaluate the event in writing, so that you can learn from it for the next time.