Business events can be great for networking, picking up new business, learning of new things and keeping up to date with what's happening in your industry.
Whether they're conferences, tradeshows, workshops, or networking events, there're so many to choose from, and that makes choosing the right event a fairly time-consuming task.
There are a few things to consider when you're trying to figure out whether you should attend an event.
It's much easier to find out who is attending these days – event websites usually have all that information listed. Looking through exhibitor and attendee listings to find out the kinds of companies attending will give you a good indication of whether it's the right thing for you.
If you decide it's worth it, try to make a connection with the people you want to meet beforehand – phone them or send them an email introducing yourself and letting them know that you will be attending. This establishes communication prior to the event and makes it easier for you to connect with them when you're there.
If you're a sponsor or have a trade stand, chances are you'll have the opportunity to do a presentation as well. You'll gain some exposure through the event advertising, but you can market your participation in the event to your clients and prospects as well.
What's on the agenda?
Often professional speakers will give the same presentation at multiple conferences – if you've already seen the presentation, you know you won't need to see it again. That leaves you free to focus more on networking, or on other sessions of value to you.
Where's it being held?
If the event is being held somewhere a fair distance away, is it worth the cost of travel and accommodation on top of the cost of entry for you? It really comes down to whether you are going to gain enough out of it.
What's the cost?
With the high cost of some events, that cost needs to be justified in some way. Will you gain new business from it, or will it just be an exercise in networking – and will that benefit you enough? Some events are free for attendees (trade shows in particular), so if you come away with nothing it may not be the end of the world.
If you must attend an event, but find the cost prohibitive, check out the sponsors and event partners – they will often have free tickets to give away to help the event organisers build awareness of the event.
Doing your research carefully before making any decision will make the difference between spending a lot of money on nothing, or helping you gain something of value.