You see them advertised––maybe you’ve even been to a few. But there are so many conferences out there, deciding which gatherings deserve your time and cash can be a daunting task. Check out these tips for choosing the best conference for you––and how to make the most of it once you’re there.
New to the conference world and looking for a manageable introduction? You can enjoy the same benefits of seminars and networking for a fraction of the cost if you opt for a local conference. No airfare or hotels, plus the chance to navigate the symposium’s substantial menu of options in the comfort of your home turf can help ensure your first conference experiences leave you recharged instead of overwhelmed.
Keep an eye on key calendars.
Leading industry organizations like the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) and must-read publications such as Roofing Contractor are invaluable hubs of information. Learn about the best events without ever having to monitor dozens of sources.
Sign up early.
Most conferences offer early bird rates to folks who commit months in advance. The savings are usually pretty substantial. Also take note of discounted hotel or even airfare rates the conference has secured for attendees through partnerships with local businesses. You’ll probably end up saving money and staying in accommodations that are both comfortable and near the event.
Specialize or cast a broad net.
Some conferences cater to a very specific crowd: the upcoming Symposium on Building Envelope Technology in Nashville comes to mind. Others, like the National Safety Council Congress and Expo the Roof Monitor team recently attended in Atlanta, appeal to a few of different industries who share a common mission, like safety. Both options offer serious value.
It’s conference time. What should I bring?
Even if you’re not showcasing in an expo or speaking in a seminar, don’t show up to the conference empty handed. Some must-haves:
- business cards. You’ll meet a lot of people––some peers, some potential customers, some experts from other industries with whom you’ll want to keep in touch. Make sure you have plenty of business cards to hand out.
- a bag. Okay––this may seem like an odd list item, but trust us: you’re going to get swag and loads of information that you won’t want to carry around, and pockets only hold so much. Bring an easy-to-use tote that you won’t mind slinging over your shoulder all day.
- questions. You’ll have in-person access to experts and innovators, along with peers who may offer different perspectives. Bring your toughest questions and walk away with new ideas for your business.
After your first conference or two, you’ll have a stronger grasp on what works for you––and what doesn’t. Keep an open mind, make new connections, and enjoy all of the lectures and hands-on demos that you wouldn’t hear and see anywhere else.
So, roofers, what did we miss? What do you look for in a conference? Tell us on our Facebook page, or tweet your #conferencetips to us @RoofMonitor!
Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg, used with Creative Commons License