How to Get the Most Out of a Business Conference

By guest blogger, Daniela Baker

Business conferences can be hugely overwhelming, but they are also incredibly beneficial for business managers and owners of all sorts. In 2009, Inc.com says that over 4.5 million trade and convention show delegates attended over 20,000 conferences and conventions in Las Vegas alone.

Depending on the business conference you travel to, you could meet with hundreds or thousands of others in your business niche. All those people and all the speakers, forums, and classes available at a business conference can be overwhelming. These tips will help you get the most out of it:

Write Down Your Goals

Obviously if you’re signing up for a business conference, you’re doing it for a reason. Think about why you’re going to a conference at all, and why you’re heading to this particular business conference. Then, make some goals based on that reasoning, and write them down.

Do you hope to make new connections in your niche? Check out potential suppliers? Promote your business or yourself? Whatever your goals, be sure to write them down so that you can keep them in mind during your conference. Then, you can leverage every connection, every class, and every session to move towards these goals.

Take Promotional Supplies

It’s easy to forget to take supplies and promotional materials when you’re going to a business conference. After all, you’ll be around other business owners, so why would you need to promote your business?

Remember, though, that a business conference can be a good place to make new connections for your business, and you never know when you’ll need a brochure or business card. Pack basic business supplies and promotional materials with the rest of your necessities for the conference.

Get a Schedule Beforehand

Getting to a conference and settling in is enough work without also needing to decide which sessions you’ll be part of. Get a schedule before you go so that you can make these decisions ahead of time, taking some of the stress out of your arrival at the conference.

Having the schedule ahead of time will also help you figure out which events will best fit into your overall goals for the conference.

Prepare to Socialize

For most conference-goers, the sessions and forums are helpful, but conversations are even more helpful. You’ll be amazed what you can learn through the casual connections you make at a business conference, so be prepared to socialize. If possible, check out business travel credit cards that will give you a little bit of extra pending leeway to take new connections out for meals. You don’t have to splurge on a five star steakhouse, necessarily, but simply treating new acquaintances to a simple meal can be a great way to solidify connections that could be hugely helpful to your business in the future.

Ask if You Can Contribute

They say that you always have to give to get, and that’s true of business conferences, as well. If you really want to get the most out of your business conference, ask if you can contribute in some way. Even if you only contribute a small white paper or a few words at the beginning of a session, being a contributor of the conference will make you more recognizable, which can help you form more connections through the business conference.

Talk to the organizers of the conference a few months before the conference to ask about contributing something to the conference.

Business conferences can be overwhelming and sometimes even confusing, especially if you’ve never been to a conference before. However, if you use these tips, you’ll get the most out of your next business conference. Who knows what you’ll learn for your business or what great new connections you’ll make?

Daniela Baker is a blogger at CreditDonkey, where she helps business owners get the most out of their business credit cards.