As spring conference season is upon us, whether you're attendee or sponsor the event, how do you select conferences to maximize your time and produce optimum return on investment?
(1) Be Proactive: Weeks or a month before a conference isn't the time to decide whether to attend. Forecast out your conference attendance at least 6 months in advance. This allows you to budget the expense, evaluate the ROI, and to make conference attendance a strategic activity.
(2) Create Evaluation Criteria: Create criteria to evaluate events and conduct a cost benefit analysis. What is your goal in attending the conference? Are you looking for a particular audience or topics? What are the possible benefits? What are all the direct and indirect costs? Then try to connect attendance to potential sales or staff development in specific pre-identified areas of need.
(3) Do Your Research: Read reviews, ask your network what conferences they find beneficial and why, scan past (and the current, if available) conference agendas for interesting and relevant speakers and topics.
(4) Plan Your Schedule: Frankly, conferences can be monotonous, make the most of your time by planning your schedule in advance once the agenda is released. Try to schedule in breaks, time to network and opportunities to see the host city.