I was participating in a Facebook conversation this morning and it occurred to me that a lot of people don’t know when to attend a conference and when not too. I thought I would share my rule of thumb on this topic.
Attend a conference when you are really busy and business is good.
The sessions at a conferences are generally good and you will learn something that you can take back and implement in your business today. Attending will not only allow you to learn new technical tools with which to make money but often the best ones will also give you some insight on how to better run your business. Be specific on this though and show up in with goals. “I need to get some tips on improving communication with my clients” “I need to learn how to figure out how to read a profit loss statement and pick out my weak points.” “I need to know more about Hyper-V” “I need to figure out how I’m going to make money with BYOD and Cloud.” You should always attend some sessions in topics that you know you are weak in. You will also learn to manage your time because you’ve just left your business while you’re really busy back at the office.
Only when you are really busy can you truly appreciate a conference. The time away feels good and new ideas will come flooding into your brain. When business is good it is easier to see a problem and tweak to fix it. Conferences also give you an opportunity to build your professional network. This professional network over time will become your sounding board and your own group of trusted advisors. Find people that have a similar outlook on business matters that you do. There are many ways to be successful but you have to go with the method that make the most sense to you. There are others like you and that’s who you want in your circle.
Don’t attend a conference when business is down.
When I started my business I didn’t go to conferences. I waited about 3 years. Then I went to my first conference because I was at a turning point. I wanted to hire but I had no idea what I was in for. So I went to a conference and I attended the business track and I talked to everyone about making that first hire. I built my circle. Then I went home and hired.
During the recent depression I never worked so hard in my whole life. I put in long hours. I marketed like crazy. I invested in the business. I worked and I worked and I worked. Business was OK. It was down because my clients were down and when they aren’t doing well there’s less work for us too. But business wasn’t terrible; it was just so-so but I needed more clients to stay at level. So I didn’t go to conferences because I had work to do and I knew that I needed to keep working hard. When the recession ended all of that hard worked and constant marketing paid off in a big way and we saw a really fast giant jump up and got swamped. I was busier than ever before. I started to attend conferences again. I needed to reconnect with my circle.
Conferences are great! I hope that you are able to attend our Brain Explosions. But I don’t want you to if you aren’t in the position to gain from it. If your business is doing well, then a conference will help you keep it expanding and be better. If your business isn’t doing well, then a conference will most likely just hurt your business further by distracting you from the problems at hand. Save it for later, after you’ve worked out the problems and things are at a more stable point.
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