How To Get The Most Out of Conferences

As a professional arborist, I know you spend a lot of time at conferences. Whether it is your local ISA chapter conference, the TCIExpo or the ISA’s annual conference, these events can be time consuming and expensive, however, they are invaluable to your business.

Below are my seven tips to getting the most out of every conference for you and your team:

Before the Conference

– Make Your Plan and Be Intentional. Don’t let a conference happen to you. Make the most out of it by making a plan beforehand. Use these questions to develop your conference strategy.
– What is the primary goal of this conference for you and your team? It could be simply to get as many CEU’s as possible, or it can be to talk to a certain equipment vendor or to learn what ArboRisk’s Thrive is all about ;). Whatever your goal is, be intentional about it. This takes planning with your team to identify what you truly want everyone to get out of the time that you are spending there.
– What sessions will be most valuable for you? Look at the agenda carefully before you go. If there are multiple sessions that you want to attend at the same time, send one of your team members to one of them so your business can get as much information as possible.
– Who do you really want to talk to at the conference? Reach out to them before to set a specific time and place to meet. Conferences get really busy for everyone. Having a predetermined meeting with a key connection is a great way to have the conversation that you want. Make a list of the questions that you want to ask each person and bring that list along with you in case you run into them before your meeting time.
– Stay at the Host Hotel. Some people use conferences as a chance to get away from the day in and day out stress of their business and decide to stay at a further away hotel to get that. That can be beneficial only if you maximize the time that you are in the conference. I’ve found that some of the most valuable information is transferred between attendees during conversations in between sessions or at the social events. By booking your hotel room at the host hotel, I guarantee, you will have more conversations with your peers and get more out of the conference.

At the Conference

– Get to the Registration Booth Early. Plan your trip so one of the first things that you do is go to the registration booth to get the conference materials. This gives you the opportunity to get familiar with the conference space so you don’t miss out on any of the sessions or social events. Many times the room assignments of the sessions are not available to you until you actually get to the venue
– Be Active During Sessions. Sit up close, ask questions and take notes during the sessions. Write down a question to ask the speaker after the session is over with. Being engaged with the content will help you retain the information better and help you think of ways to incorporate the message into your business. Also, if you take solid notes, you’ll be able to share the information with your team at a later date.
– Socialize. I’ve said it already, however, being social at a conference is the best way to maximize your experience there. You never know who you can meet a conference, it could be your next employee or a referral partner or a future mentor.

After the Conference

– Follow-up. If there were people that you enjoyed talking to, send them a post-conference email or LinkedIn request. Ask them an additional question that you had from your conversation.
– Plan for Next Year. If you enjoyed the conference, make even a better plan for next year. Think about what went well and what you would like to do differently next time.

Conferences have provided me with the ability to gain great friendships, advance my career and make wonderful memories, however, it did not happen without my efforts. Be intentional when you go to your next conference and use these seven tips to get the most out of them.

Written by: Eric Petersen