My Top 5 Tips to Maximize Your Next Conference Experience

As entrepreneurs, we attend a lot of conferences, seminars, networking events, and the like. Recently, I had the pleasure of being 1 of 100 women selected to attend Arian Simone’s Fearless Mogul Conference at Facebook’s Headquarters in San Francisco, CA. The experience leading up to it, during and after was absolutely amazing and very different from what I have experienced at other conferences. The speakers and content were top notch! We got to hear from some phenomenal women doing fantastic things in business… from Robin McBride of McBride Sisters Wine to Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal & Girl Boss. Not to mention the energy in the room was overflowing with sisterhood vibes. Considering all of this goodness, I’m sure you are thinking - “well, duh, of course this event would be unlike any other!” And you are absolutely right to think so. However, what made this conference truly different from others is how I showed up. Not only was I among the few selected to attend, but I got to enjoy the experience with a fellow girl boss and friend, Dani Spikes of Beloved Box. And let me tell you, we owned that room and were extremely intentional with our time and energy. We walked out of there with contacts, information and insight that will continue to be a return on our investment for years to come. Want to learn what we did different and how you can level up at your conference? Keep reading.

LaToya Stirrup at Facebook HQ

Here are my top 5 tips on how to maximize your conference experience to ensure you receive a return on your investment:

#1 Set Your Intention: In the weeks leading up to the conference, we connected and discussed our goals and intentions for attending the conference. We were very clear and honest about the outcomes we wanted to achieve. We identified the overall feeling and experience we wanted to have as well as tangible goals. This step helped us to be laser focused on our game plan and how we navigated the room.

Dani Spikes, Robin McBride, LaToya Stirrup

Dani Spikes of Beloved Box, Robin McBride of McBride Sisters Wines with LaToya Stirrup  

#2 Know Your Ask: Whether you are networking with other attendees or chatting with speakers once they get off stage, it is important that you know what you want to ask so that you can make the most of your time with them. This is important because it will help you to get right to the point, especially if you are talking to speakers who probably don’t have a ton of time. Also, your “ask” doesn’t just have to be a question. Your ask should really be a business proposition that creates a win-win opportunity for you and who you are talking to. As an entrepreneur, you want to get your business in front of as many people as possible and tap as many valuable resources as possible. Therefore, the best way to do so is to know what you want and not be afraid to ask for it. If you don’t speak up, how will anyone help you? This is why my first tip is so important, because if you take time to get clear about your intention and desired outcomes, then you will know what to ask when the opportunity presents itself.

"Your ask should really be a business proposition that creates a win-win opportunity for you and who you are talking to."

#3 Connect on the Spot: Personally, I am over passing out business cards. They create more clutter than anything and are prone to getting lost. Think about it - out of all the business cards you’ve passed out over the years, how many people have actually contacted you because you exchanged cards? Let’s face it, people’s follow-up game is lacking. But, if you connect on the spot, you are more likely to keep the conversation going and you have all the tools you need right at your fingertips. Just pull out your phone and the options are right there. You can connect via social media and send a personal DM. With this option, you get the added benefit of increasing your followers with each new contact. You can send your contact information via text. Or you can just open up your email and send them a quick intro email on the spot. To save time, create a draft email that you can quickly personalize and reuse. Another thing I like to do when connecting on the spot is to take a photo together. If you are bad with names, it will help you to remember the person and is a fun way to share the moment (especially if the conversation was good).

#4 Bring Samples: Being in the room with other like-minded individuals is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. You want to be sure that as many people as possible leave the event knowing about you, your product or service. A great way to do this is to bring samples and branded collateral (i.e. flyers with promo codes, stickers, etc). The samples will allow people to experience your product in person. The branded collateral will provide you with the opportunity to give them a fun leave behind, which will help them remember you after the conference and ideally make a purchase.

#5 Celebrate: This may sound trivial, but celebrating great connections and possible leads is a great way to keep your energy high throughout the day. While at Fearless Moguls, Dani and I kept giving each other high-fives after each successful conversation. It kept us motivated and wanting to stay on task. At the end of the day, we treated ourselves to a delicious meal and shared a beautiful toast.   

The next time you go to a conference, I challenge you to be intentional about your experience. You’ve already made the investment to attend. Now it’s time to secure the bag and get a return on that investment. Even though I only shared my top 5, there are many different ways you can prepare and maximize your attendance to get the most out of the conference...from researching the speakers and attendees who will be there to practicing your elevator pitch. If you have any great tips you want to share, feel free to drop a comment.

 

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