Developing a Conference Strategy
Episode #113 of Digital Analytics Power Hour: Getting the Most Out of Conferences, with Tim Wilson, Moe Kiss, and me (Michael Helbling), centered around the role of conferences in the work life of the analyst, and what place conferences have in the development of the analyst. How do you get the most value out of them, and how do you convince your company that it is a worthwhile cost for them to send you to develop your skills?
There’s an art, and maybe even a science, to getting the most value out of a conference experience. The function of going is to learn and network with peers in the industry and to provide some comparative points of view to help synthesize your own thinking on topics that you’ve been working on or thinking about.
Value for You
Have a strategy for the conference: What am I planning to do, or accomplish? Set a goal for how many people you will introduce yourself to, because if you are introverted like me, and need to mentally prepare yourself for introductions, then take the time to plan.
- Have questions prepared for the specific people you want to meet: There is value in preparing your questions ahead of time so you utilize your limited time with them wisely.
- Don’t be afraid to walk out of a session: You (or your company) have spent a lot of money to attend the conference, you should get the most out of it. If you need to walk out of a session because it’s not right or you think another section might be better, then do it!
- Network: you should be exhausted at the end of any conference and you should have spent the bare minimum time in your room even though you desperately want to recharge. More often than not, you start to have the discussion and then within a minute you found some sort of common ground and you’re having a good discussion.
Before you can enhance your career with all the learning and networking opportunities conferences have to offer, you have to convince your company to send you. Even if you work at a company that invests in their people, you still have to make an effective case for why your attendance at a specific conference is going to add value to you and the company. In essence, the decision is one of comparing the choice to spend the dollars for the conference against a multitude of other opportunities to spend those dollars that may have a more obvious return on investment. Even in large enterprises, money is not endless.
Value for your Boss
- Identify the other brands or (individuals within companies) that will be there that you can learn from: Use your competitors as an incentive.
- Determine how you will bring the value back to the company: Does that come in the form of training and knowledge for you, education for the team, or some combination of both? Or perhaps your attendance could take the form of research to understand opportunities in the market, better understand who is doing well and what are they doing that could help drive your own company’s strategy?
- Give options to your boss: Don’t fixate on one event or conference. There are often multiple ways to achieve your main goals for attending a conference. Researching all the options’ pros and cons, and offering alternatives to your boss communicates thoughtfulness and flexibility, which will appeal to their better senses.
Once you have thought through your approach and the value proposition, go get that approval, and I hope to see you at the next analytics conference!
Check out the full podcast Getting the Most Out of Conferences, and many more insightful topics on the Digital Analytics Power Hour website.
Note from the editor: Some awesome analytics conferences that you will find some Search Discovery team members at this year and next!