Six ways attending a conference will change your life

Business

Six ways attending a conference will change your life

Hanniffa
PATTERSON

Friday, January 24, 2020

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Conferences today seem to be a dime a dozen. Everyone is having some conference whether on motivation, marketing or whatever. But there is a reason such events are in high demand — it's simply because conferences are awesome.


Last year was my second time attending the Tech Beach Retreat event, and like the first, it was quite an experience, one I didn't regret. Three days at a hotel, listening to business and tech experts share on their projects, business and innovation, was exactly what the doctor ordered. However, it was also something much more profound, it was a time of deep learning, networking, new friendships and so much more.


That can make a conference a worthwhile investment. As a small business person or entrepreneur, believe me, the return on a good conference is always return on investment (ROI) positive.
Here are a six reasons why.


1. THE NETWORKING


It may seem quite obvious, but the networking you'll experience at a conference is like no other.


At a conference you get to spend time with like-minded professionals, who truly understand the struggles that are particular to your area of work. This is especially true for entrepreneurs or those working in subject areas that are new and upcoming, and often hard for the general public to understand or latch on to — for example, cryptocurrency, digital media/marketing and artificial intelligence.


In networking, you also get to rub shoulders with those who are in your area but totally out of your league — which is good, as your goal should always be to learn from the best.


At the recent conference I got to speak with a prominent business man that I had often seen at press and business events. I had considered him to be aloof and unapproachable. However, after being introduced by another conference attendee, we had a good chat and I heard about his unlikely beginnings and story. I discovered that in reality, he is laid back and very approachable. Outside of the conference setting I probably would have never spoken to him.


I also got the opportunity to connect with some very inspiring ladies from Google, who are paving the way for inclusion in the tech world — two of whom are Jamaicans
I had no idea Google had a department that did that, or that Jamaicans, were involved.


We are now all Instagram friends. I also left with new LinkedIn contacts. People who I may be of service to in the future and vice versa.


2. THE FRIENDSHIPS


The cool part is that at these events you'll not only network, but some of these individuals will actually become your friends — and good ones. I'm not referring to finding a mentor, but at a conference, if you are bold enough, you will certainly leave with a few people who you'll keep in contact with for the rest of your life or at least years to come.


Since Tech Beach, there are at least four people that I message regularly, who I've met for dinner, or a had a few WhatsApp calls with.


As it was also my second time attending the same event, there were some friends that I met at Tech Beach 2018, and was so happy to see and get to spend time with at Tech Beach 2019. They made my second experience that much better.


For me, Tech Beach was particular in that we met across our passions not our positions.

So I got to meet people who were just as passionate as I was about tech and innovation, without first knowing that this person was the head of this, or senior VP of that. We were just people passionate about our work and who wanted to learn and share as much as we could about it with others.


3. YOU'LL GET NEW BUSINESS


From these friendships and network connections I have also gotten business.
Society today is built on the “like, know and trust, factor.” Genuine connections made will inevitably translate into business. As I have built the connection there has also been an increase in trust. So, I have had people I met at a conference invite me in on business deals and recommend me to clients that they believed could benefit from my services.


If a conference is an international one, this will translate to international opportunities and clients. From Tech Beach, for instance, I am currently in discussions with a company in Trinidad on a potential project.


4. THE LEARNING


At Tech Beach Retreat 2018, I remember not having enough time to go to the pool, though I was there for three whole days. The conference was intense, almost back-to-back sessions and talks, a bit of networking in between. But I learnt so much.
Conferences are amazing for the learning opportunities.


Learning about related fields and topics help to build connections and rekindle your interest in yours. It builds excitement and spurs innovation. For instance, as a marketer, you could learn about a new app or technology which could then be applied to your area of business, or even spark a new business idea.


Though Tech Beach is more of a “tech generalist” conference (meaning they covered a wide range of topics in the are of tech), there are so many other conferences which focus on one subject matter and which can be particularly helpful. Imagine three days learning how to improve your marketing, or skills as a teacher or at Forex trading.


5. IT HUMBLES YOU


It is amazing how little you know, even as an “expert” in your chosen field. No matter how much you believe you are on top of your game, you are going to be humbled as you meet others doing amazing work in the same area that may be more meaningful, or on a larger scale. It is both exciting and humbling to hear another person unpack an aspect of your work you had never imagined or ventured out into.


6. IT ENCOURAGES YOU


At the same time this also encourages you to think bigger, and stretch yourself further.

Standing before you whether on stage, or in the line for breakfast, is someone sharing their story of how they got to where they are in their business, how they pushed past the initial stages of no funding and other numerous challenges and still got to where they are today. They may still even be in those challenges, but then they share their techniques and strategies at finding solutions.


It is equally encouraging to hear others speak with the same passion you have for your work. You feel encouraged, and your fellow attendees become a sort of brotherhood or sisterhood.


If you are a small business person or entrepreneur, yes it's easy to overlook attending that “expensive” conference, with the excuse that — “I don't have the budget”. But the right conference, can prove to be a game changer for your life and business, through the networking opportunities, friendships garnered, information gained and business lessons learned.


So identify a conference you absolutely must attend this year for your development.

Start putting aside a few dollars monthly, or ask some family members to offer you the experience as a gift. Decide to make it happen, then go there and make the best of the opportunity. Because as with everything in life… nothing works if you don't.


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