Attending a live, in-person industry conference is a fantastic way for independent financial advisors to learn, grow, and connect with other professionals. Too often advisors attend these events solely for the continuing education (CE) credits and miss out on a wealth of opportunities outside of the sessions. In this article, you’ll learn how to get more out of the industry conferences you attend and action to take before you show up to improve your outcomes.
What to do beyond earning CE credit
Network with other advisors
Conferences provide a unique opportunity to connect with other advisors who may have different perspectives and experiences. By networking with other advisors, you can gain valuable insights into how they run their businesses, what technologies they use, and how they market their services. Building these relationships can also lead to future referrals and collaborations. You may even decide to form a Mastermind group with a few of the advisors you meet, or create an accountability partnership with another advisor so you both implement the ideas you take away from the conference.
Explore new technologies
Use the exhibition hall to explore new technologies and tools that can improve your operations and enhance your client experience. Talk to vendors about their products and services. You may discover new software that can streamline your workflows, improve your cybersecurity, or automate your marketing efforts.
Attend practice management sessions
While CE sessions are important, don’t forget to include practice management sessions on your agenda so you can improve areas such as your marketing and sales acumen. These sessions can provide valuable insights into how to attract new clients, retain existing ones, and grow your business. You may learn about new sales strategies, how to improve your client communication, or how to run your business more efficiently.
Connect with industry thought leaders
Conferences often feature keynote speakers and panelists who are thought leaders in the industry. These individuals can provide valuable insights into the future of the industry, emerging trends, and best practices. You may also consider reaching out to them after the conference to continue the conversation and learn more.
Build your game plan before you attend
You may feel overwhelmed at the thought of mingling to meet other advisors, identifying the right vendors to stop by and visit, or striking up a conversation with an industry leader. However, with a little preparation, you can maximize your time at the event and make the most out of your experience. Here are some tips on how to get ready in advance of attending the conference to get your highest ROI:
Before attending the conference, take some time to set clear and specific goals for what you hope to achieve. Do you want to learn about new technologies, network with other advisors, or attend specific sessions? Be clear on what you want to accomplish. You may choose to introduce yourself to ten people you don’t know or walk away understanding three new operational solutions. Once you have identified your goals, write them down so you can measure against them when you return. (if you work with a coach, this can be a helpful conversation to have before you leave to lock in your intentions).
Plan your itinerary
Review the conference agenda and create a personalized itinerary that aligns with your goals. Plan which sessions you want to attend, which vendors you want to visit, and which networking events you want to participate in. This will help you maximize your time and ensure that you don’t miss any critical opportunities.
Research the speakers and vendors
Before attending the conference, research the keynote speakers and exhibitors to identify which ones align with your interests and goals. Read their bios, websites, and social media accounts to get a sense of their expertise and background. This will help you identify which sessions and exhibitors to prioritize.
Engage in pre-conference conversation
Leading up to the conference, engage with other attendees, exhibitors, and speakers on Linkedin or Twitter.. Use the conference hashtag to join the conversation and promote your attendance (which your clients will also appreciate seeing). This will help you connect with other attendees before the event and build relationships that can continue beyond the conference.
Additionally, consider joining any social media or networking groups related to the conference in advance. This could include LinkedIn groups or Facebook groups for conference attendees. Participating in these groups can help you build relationships with other attendees before the event and provide an opportunity to make plans to meet up while you are there.
Reach out directly
Another valuable tip for getting the most out of an industry conference is to review the list of attendees and reach out to those you want to connect with in advance. By planning to meet up with other attendees, you can maximize your networking opportunities and make new connections that can help grow your business.
Review the list of attendees and identify those you want to meet with. Reach out to them via email or social media to schedule a time to connect while you are at the conference. This could be for coffee, lunch, or even just a quick chat during a break between sessions.
Remember, conferences are not just about attending sessions and collecting CE credits. They are an opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals, learn about new technologies and trends, and build relationships that can help you grow your business and feel connected to the larger financial advisor community.