Attending your next conference without a game plan in mind? You might as well throw away those tickets and that hard-earned cash. Conferences, trade shows and regional training opportunities are an important investment in your program, but it takes more than just showing up to get a return on your dollar.
Jackrabbit clients who attend BOOST each year seem to have this down pat. Get the most out of your next conference by trying on a few of these approaches.
Check out the agenda before you go
Before you head out for the conference, set a goal with your team (even those who aren’t attending) for what you’d like to learn or achieve during the conference. Check out the schedule together and map out which sessions will help you achieve that goal.
Don’t just browse the topics but pay close attention to the speakers that are featured. Do these speakers seem like subject matter experts? It’s important that you’re able to connect with those in the room with you so that you can take in the content and business-growing decisions with it.
It’s no secret that Jackrabbit is a big fan of hosting training events. Our in-house chaos coordinator, err.. Event Planner, Laura Thomas, will tell you, we like to plan. We love our checklists and we refuse to plan an event without them. Create your own checklist before you head out and consider starting with your packing list.
Your packing list for an industry even should include your laptop/tablet, chargers, extra pens a notebook and business cards—leave room for anything else that you think might be important for an action-packed day full of learning and networking with other dance studio, gymnastic or swim school owners and directors.
Network Now. Network Early.
Most conferences worth attending have a dedicated website or Facebook forum or event app where you can see who’s attending before you get there. Following and joining in on the conversations on the Facebook page and/or hashtag across their other social media channels may also lead to a few great preshow conversations. These days, conferences are packing in the attendees, with many hosting hundreds of industry influencers. With that many people in one place, you can’t always count on meeting the right people organically any more. Take advantage of these platforms and make plans to connect ahead of the event.
Bring a friend but Divide and Conquer.
We think the best way to attend a conference is with your team, but don’t plan on attending every session together. Split up and attend different classes and sit with other people during the main stage presentations. This will increase the amount of information and new connections that you can bring back to your program. It’s also not a bad idea to try to attend a couple of sessions that are outside of your comfort zone or maybe cover topics that make you work a little harder. After all, that’s why you picked these conferences, right?
Let Your Customers Know Where You’re At.
Let your team and families back at home know that you’re attending this conference or training. Whether you let them know in your monthly email or post live and on demand on social media, don’t be afraid to give yourself a shout out and a big pat on the back. Growing your team and seeking out information, a bigger network and more powerful tools to bring to your program lets them know that you’re serious about keeping up with the best practices in your industry and that you take learning and professional development seriously.
Looking for the next big opportunity to grow your team?