The ROI of Attending a Conference

This is a very exciting day here at Your Organizing Business, as we welcome our very first guest blogger! I met Elaine Shannon when we worked together on the National Board of Directors for Professional Organizers in Canada, and we have stayed in touch thanks to Twitter and other social networking sites. A seasoned conference-goer, Elaine has come by to tell us about the recent NAPO Conference, and to share a few tips to help you make the most of your next conference experience.

Family fun at the NAPO Conference

This April we packed our family of five into our truck and started the 28 hour trek to sunny Orlando Florida for the NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) 21st annual Conference. It was an interesting journey that included many surprises, adventures and some great family time.

Our stop in Boston to take the children to the Boston Aquarium was where we lost our 11 year old for 15 minutes…the longest 15 minutes of my life. He said that he was never lost and did not know what we were all freaked out about! Washington was where the truck lost its steering and we enjoyed a two day stop for repairs…thanks to our warranty it cost us only our time.  On the way home we decided that at 4:00 pm on a Friday we should cross the GW Bridge in New York, well…all I can say is that 90 minutes to drive 10 miles is not my idea of a lovely Friday evening commute.

This was the unplanned family stuff that creates memories.

In contrast to the unplanned family stuff, preparing for Conference was something that was thought out very carefully in advance.  After attending at least 20 conferences in the past five years, I have learned a few things about the Return on Investment of attending any conference. Like anything in life, it pays to have an agenda, going to any event blindly and not having a reason for being there is a gross waste of time and money. So here are four great reasons for attending a conference:

  • To network with peers
  • To further your education
  • To make business connections
  • To learn about new products and services

Elaine Shannon at the Ziploc boothOne of the highlights of a great conference is getting to see new products. Ziploc has come out with a whole line of storage products for large items. If you check out their site you can watch Bob Izumi (yes the fishing guy) using Ziploc to de-clutter his fishing gear. Who would have thought!

For this conference I had these three objectives:

Learn more about social media and how I can use this in my business. I got this in the session with Rich Brooks. The big take away for me was finding out about www.nearbytweets.com. This handy application has opened the door to two new local relationships that would not have otherwise happened.

Reconnect with my peers that live in other parts of the world. I always love to get the perspective from people who live outside the North American bubble. Wendy Davie, an organizer pal from New Zealand who tells it like it is, was one of those people. In a conference with over 800 people in attendance, I relish any face to face time that happens, and Wendy and I got to have some great chat time.

The last objective was to make connections with future affiliates for our recently launched Home Organizing Videos. This was easier said than done. For many people this is seen as a form of competition; I see it as a way for people to earn passive income. But that is a whole other subject and I am sure that it will earn its own blog post.

Investigate the conference ahead of time; Who will be attending? Who are the vendors attending the expo? What are the sessions and who is teaching them? Who you will be sitting with at each meal?

Next time you are contemplating attending a conference, know your specific objectives and make a plan to achieve those objectives.

Comments

  1. Elaine, thank YOU for sharing your experience with my readers!

    As I look forward to the Forum on Virtual Assistance in Niagara Falls this week, I have a piece of advice to add:

    When you’re planning your schedule, be sure to keep plenty of time open before the conference for shopping for clothes or other things you might need, reviewing any workshop materials you receive in advance, and other unexpected things. And if possible, allow yourself at least a day or two to get back into the swing of things when you return, depending how long you were away.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Elaine! Your tips are just as valid today as when you wrote them five years ago (where does the time go?!?) and I know you’re missed in the organizing world.

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