When you take a look at the cost involved with attending live events, those numbers can really add up.
Average Ticket Price – $1,000
Airfare – $500
Hotel – $1,100
Eating out – $400
Uber to and from the airport – $100
Dog Sitter – $120
And the most expensive of it all – YOUR TIME!
I realized just how big of an investment it was when I saw the final number for business travel on my latest tax return… geez!
And while this final total from the various events attended throughout the year induced a little bit of sticker shock, I know the ROI far exceeds the cost IF you do what’s needed to maximize your return.
There’s nothing that compares to the energy in a room when you bring together thousands of creative, ambitious, and like-minded people.
But in order to receive the full benefits of attending, there’s some prep work needed and a few rules to follow that I’ve learned over the years and tens of thousands of dollars spent.
So if you’re planning on attending an event in the near future, here are my 10 tips to ensure it’s a profitable trip…
1. Know your outcome
No matter what we’re trying to accomplish in life, we always have a better chance of getting to the desired result when we’re clear on what “it” is.
There’s a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System, or RAS, that’s considered the “attention center” of the brain. The sole purpose is to block out as much stimulus as possible because if our brains took in everything in our surroundings we’d go crazy.
The RAS determines what we consciously decide to give our attention to at any moment in time, while the remaining data gets filtered out and transferred to the unconscious parts of the brain.
When you set your intent you’re directing your Reticular Activating System to stretch towards your desired goal and you’ll be able to easily identify things that will help you achieve it.
I noticed this phenomenon just last week after talking to my mom about a Broadway show she wanted to see called Hamilton because everyone was raving about how great it was. I had never heard of it before but apparently, it’s been out for a long time.
Over the next two days, I saw three advertisements for the show around Chicago. On a building wall, a bus stop and in a magazine. I can promise you that people didn’t rush out and put those signs up overnight and this is the same area of town I’m in every day.
The only difference was that now it had my attention so my brain filtered it through to the conscious level.
The point is if you’re clear on what it is that you want to learn, or the type of business connections you want to make at the event, things will pop out at you like magic.
So ask yourself, “Why am I attending this event and what do I want to get out of it”
2. Set up your notebook prior to attending
As entrepreneurs, we’re already at risk of falling victim to shiny object syndrome on a daily basis. When you attend a live event that’s packed full of people that are true experts in their field, it’s like that times 100.
Time after time I would walk away from a 3-day conference with a million ideas, a notebook full of to-dos and a bunch of 1/10th finished projects that I started trying to implement after learning something new and exciting in one of the sessions.
The end result… nothing was finished = $0 ROI
To combat this sad ending I started being very conscious of how I was taking notes throughout the event.
- Section 1 – random note taking
- Section 2 – “ideas” aka a pile-up zone (things that I want to revisit)
- Section 3 – an immediate list of “do now” action items that are added to a spreadsheet in Evernote or Google sheets.
It’s important to only keep one list. That way you can reprioritize and adjust throughout the event because I can promise you there will be 10 times more that you want to do than you actually have the resources to implement.
I know that’s hard to accept but I truly believe the ability to maintain focus and finish things to completion is the difference between the winners and the losers in this game of business. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been on the losing end of this battle many times but the more aware I am of it, the more I can set up precautionary measures in the attempt to combat it. Hence, the action list 🙂
3. Break out of your circle
I’ve heard my business coach, Todd Herman, say time and time again that business moves at the speed of relationships and as usual, he’s 1000% right.
You can have the most amazing launch strategy in the history of the world or employ every marketing tactic known to man but this will never compare to the impact that can be made from meeting the right person and your strategic partnerships.
With that said, get out of your clique and make it a point to meet as many people as you can.
If you’re going to the event with colleagues, employees or friends, remember – you already know them! So make sure you don’t stay attached at the hip.
Some good rules to follow:
- Never leave a session without at least introducing yourself to the people you’re sitting next to.
- Eat lunch with different people.
- Take advantage of the networking opportunities during breaks instead of looking at your phone.
4. Set up your networking follow-up plan prior
By the end of the trip, my bag is overflowing with business cards. And even though I have every intention of following up that rarely happened. That is until I started using SNAP.
Snap is this nifty app that allows you to take a picture of a business card with my phone and it automatically adds the contact information to Infusionsoft (my CRM) . Sometimes I’ll even set up an automated email to be sent but either way, at least now I have a list of everyone I met with notes organized in one place. Another easy way to get them all into your contact list is to lay them all out on a table, take a picture, and send it to a VA so they can enter them.
Regardless of how you do it, be sure to schedule time to follow up.
This should go without saying but you’re more approachable and inviting when you smile. And since one of the most valuable parts of attending events like this are the connections that you make, you want people to want to talk to you!
6. Be present
If you’re going to invest the time, money and energy to go you actually want to BE there. If you’re going to be working on your computer every chance you get or glued to your email and text on your phone you really might as well stay home.
- Set up your out of office reply
- Let anyone that may need to know ahead of time that you’ll be unavailable
- If you have a team, delegate anything you may normally do throughout the day to them
There’s a second part to this one and that is to be present when you’re talking with others. The most charismatic people are the ones that make you feel heard and valued and the only way this is accomplished is by being present in a conversation.
So instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next before they’re even finished talking, worrying about what they think about you or who else you should meet, actually stop and listen. Be curious, ask questions and let it be known that you genuinely care.
7. Stay hydrated and well nourished
Instead of having a 10th cup of coffee, carry a water bottle in your bag and drink as much as you can. This will keep your energy up plus it makes you look a lot better. It’s also a lot easier to eat well if you bring snacks with you.
8. Buy a new outfit
When you look good you feel good. If you dress the part and present yourself well, your confidence will shine through.
9. Have a drink, not 10
The start of some of my strongest business relationships began over drinks at a conference.
With that said, there’s nothing worse than waking up on day two with a hangover. You feel like crap, you look like crap, and your ability to hold an engaging conversation is far from stellar (trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way on numerous occasions!).
As much as I love wine, no matter what kind it is or how expensive it is, if I have two glasses my head is pounding the next morning. I’ve found that if I stick to beer I’m good to go.
If we ever happen to run into each other at an event and you see me at the bar or at dinner with a glass of wine, I give you full permission to take it 🙂 I’ll thank you later.
10. Last but not least, provide value
When you go into something only thinking about yourself and what you can get out of a situation it’s never going to end up as well as if you took a mutually beneficial approach.
While it’s very important to know your objectives and what you want to accomplish it’s equally important to really think about what type of value you can bring to others.
How can you help them achieve their goals?
Who can you connect them with?
What’s something you know that others would love to know?
How can you serve?
If you focus on this and keep the other 9 tips in mind you’ll see a much higher ROI on any event you attend.
So that’s all folks! Have fun, learn some new things, immediately implement the thing that will create the highest leverage in your business, and make some great connections.