So, here at The Condex, we often say that there’s nothing worse than finding out about a great conference after it’s too late to attend – but really, there’s one thing that is a bit worse… that’s when you go to an event that you thought would be amazing, only to be disappointed.
You’ve heard the event is great, you’re excited about the possibilities, you shell out the cash for the ticket, make your hotel plans and book a flight. Then, you show up… and meh… not so amazing.
So – why did you hear so many great things about the event? What did your friends, colleagues and people you follow on social media like about this event?
The Key to Finding a Conference Worth Attending
The key to figuring out whether or not an event is going to be worth attending is to first identify what you want out of the event. The people who loved the event that you hated likely wanted something different out of the event than you did – maybe you wanted networking opportunities, and they wanted educational opportunities.
So, start by considering what you want out of the event. It will probably fall into one or more of these categories:
If you’re looking forward to filling a notebook with all of the tips, tricks and how-to details served up by the speakers, education is important to you.
Workshops and Roundtables
Maybe you’re looking forward to sitting down with experts and peers to discuss your ideas and issues and hearing what others are doing and suggesting. Some events offer workshops and roundtables where this type of interaction occurs.
If you have a stack of business cards that you’re itching to run out of – you should be looking for events that boast loads of networking opportunities. You want to see big exhibit halls, structured cocktail parties and access to apps and online communities for attendees to connect.
Access to Experts and Professionals
One thing that that can really take the wind out of your sails is traveling to an event to hear an expert you’ve followed and shake their hand after their speech… only to find that the experts at the event are ushered backstage and kept separate from the attendees. So, if rubbing elbows with the experts and the top professionals in the industry is important to you, be sure to look for evidence of that access in tweets and photos from attendees.
If you are hoping to walk away from the event with a new job or new clients, you’ll want to look for things like a Job Fair and the ability for attendees to pitch from the stage. Networking can also help you find out where the jobs and clients might be – so look for conferences with apps and online groups to facilitate meetings and conversations before, during and after the event.
Location, Food, Entertainment & Night Life
Do you make the most out of the non-conference experience when you travel for business? If you’re looking for fun parties, interesting venues and entertainment options – be sure to look for photos from attendees and announcements from the event and sponsors about the parties and activities planned outside of the regular agenda.
If you’re taking along an empty suitcase to fill with all of the stuff you pick up from vendors, “swag” is a keyword to focus on. Look for big exhibit halls and brands that have physical products.
Once You Know What You Want – Look for Relevant Reviews
Knowing what you want out of the event will help you scan through reviews and social media comments to figure out if the event has the aspects that interest you the most.
Don’t be afraid to dig in and ask questions. If you see a tweet saying “Event ABC was great – can’t wait for next year”, reply to the tweet, or DM the person who sent it. Ask them what they liked about the event, or better yet, ask them how they’d rate the category (education, networking opportunities, etc) that you identified.