Attending a large business conference, especially for the first time, can seem intimidating. Prospective and existing women business owners who attend the WBDC’s 25th Anniversary Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at Chicago’s McCormick Place-West will be one step ahead if they’re armed with these tips:
- Know before you go. Look at the conference schedule in advance, and create a plan for the sessions you want to attend and the exhibitors you plan to target.
- Arrive early and stay late. Getting there early will give you a chance to find parking, sign in at registration, read through the program book, and get a good seat. Stay for the reception: you might meet your next client!
- Conferences are a chance to see old friends – but also make new ones. Use the opportunity to expand your network of contacts.
- Take at least 100 business cards to hand out. Ideally, your cards include all the ways that people can reach you, including the social media sites you are using professionally.
- Try to stay focused on the conference and not what’s happening back at the office. Limit the amount of time you spend talking on the phone and responding to work email.
- Consider sharing what you are learning – in real time! Blog, tweet or post Facebook status updates, and make sure to add hashtag #wbdc25 to your tweets throughout the day.
- Be a gatherer of useful information. Take notes, underline important concepts and obtain business cards of others, including workshop presenters.
- The Breakfast Forum and Awards Luncheon are not just about sustenance and learning from the pros, but also more networking. Make sure you meet everyone at your table. Look around the room for familiar faces. Ask for introductions.
- Check out the exhibit area – the Women’s Business & Buyers Mart – to make contacts with corporate and government representatives who are committed to purchasing products and services from women-owned businesses and may be able to steer business your way.
- After the conference, follow up with contacts you’ve made. Make a list of what you learned that you want to apply to your business.
What additional tips would you suggest for getting the most out of a business conference? Share them in the comment section below!
Chris Ruys is President of Chris Ruys Communications, Inc. and a contributing author to the WBDC blog.