Registration fees, too busy, travel hassle, mediocre food…. There are certainly no shortage of reasons to NOT attend the industry’s next conference. Don’t let minor annoyances make the decision for you. Instead, take advantage of the next industry conference and reap the rewards:
1. Bolster Your Network. This is your chance to mingle with the best and brightest in your field and in the industry. Check out the latest progress from industry innovators, engage with like-minded people and trade ideas, and of course, keep an eye on what your competitors are up to and what your customers are asking for.
At conferences, you have the opportunity to make connections with successful people in positions of influence. And the best part is that these people are hoping to make connections with you, too! Exchange business cards. Volunteer to be on a panel, chair a session, organize a peer-to-peer or association get-together. Whether you’re actively looking for a new clients right now or are making a longer-term effort to build a strong network of contacts for the future, industry conferences are a great place to expand your circle.
Make arrangements in advance to share a meal or just have a relaxed conversation with any existing customers or clients. Build your relationship by asking them how business is going and tell them about additional ways that you and your company/firm can help them. Make notes on their card. Follow up with an email when you get back to the office, when it seems appropriate
2. Accelerate Learning. Industry conferences are a hotbed of interesting seminars and workshops – attend as many conference events as will fit into your budget and your schedule and absorb as much as you can. By taking it all in, you’ll make yourself and your business more marketable to customers. Take the opportunity to ask questions of presenters and get to know them personally. When applicable, ask if there are free resources you can take advantage of.
Collection industry laws, rules and regulations are always changing. Attending sessions on compliance and getting immediate feedback from credible individuals, as well as talking with people who share similar challenges can be very helpful in making your own organization compliant. Getting answers to your questions and staying up-to-date on the latest industry issues is more critical than ever before. Collect presentation materials or ask that they be sent to you for later reference and study.
3. Catch Up With Trends. In addition to compliance, the debt collection industry is changing in areas related to technology used for communication with debtors, mergers and acquisitions, the documents that need to be acquired and stored, and in many other ways.
Attending conference sessions and the exhibit hall is a great way to stay on the cutting edge. Conferences are often where leading companies will debut new products or present sneak previews of upcoming developments. Talk to vendors and check out the new products for yourself, and take the time to really learn what’s on the horizon. That way, the next time you’re speaking with a prospect or just conversing with someone who may be influential – you’ll come off as knowledgeable, passionate, and in-the-know.
4. Get Inspired. With so many successful members of your industry present, chances are good that you could bump into your next mentor or role model at a conference. When you meet someone you admire, ask them how they got where they are and what lessons they learned along the way. Are there ways that you can apply what they’ve learned to your own business and career? Pass out your business card. You never know – your next business partner or client might be just around the corner.
5. Be Your Best Self. Industry conferences tend to be more casual than other business meetings. You can use this to your advantage. Take the time to really enjoy yourself and get to know the people around you. More importantly, let them get to know you. We’re all at our best when we’re relaxed and being ourselves, and this is exactly the type of atmosphere that most conferences try to cultivate. As a result, establishing contacts at a conference is a great way to make strong impressions and forge lasting connections with people who could one day have significant impact on your career.
Don’t let the opportunities at the next industry conference pass you by. Instead, make a commitment to yourself to get the most out of each conference experience and follow through on that commitment. You might just be amazed at the results.
*The 5 main ideas in this blog originally appeared in Top 5 Reasons to Attend Your Industry’s Conferences. NL is reposting that blog today, with some editing and additions, by permission of the author, Kimberly Schneiderman, www.citycareerservices.com.