Written by Kronos Technologies on October 31, 2017
Your growth as an advisor is directly tied to your investment in your own development. For many advisors the upcoming conference season represents a great opportunity to learn, network and find new ideas you can take back to your practice. Sometimes, though, conferences offer more opportunity than an advisor can easily handle. There are thousands of attendees to meet, dozens of sessions and speakers, and a jam-packed social calendar. With so much to take in, how do you make the most of all that possibility?
Here are four ways to make the most of each conference in the upcoming season and maximize your return without getting overwhelmed.
Step One: Identify twelve month goals for your practice
A successful conference is one that creates opportunities for you to achieve your goals for your practice in the coming year. So, getting the most out of any conference means first being clear about what you want to achieve in your business. The easiest way to do that is to set three priorities that you will focus on in your business over the next twelve months. When you quantify your goals like this it makes it easier to prioritise your activities and brings great focus. Consider goals like growing your book of business, or starting a transition process, or entering a new market.
Step Two: Identify what you need to learn to achieve your goals
For each goal set a learning objective—nothing complicated, just list the things you want to learn or get better at that will help you reach that goal for your practice. For instance, if you wanted to grow your book of business you might focus on marketing as learning opportunity. Perhaps you want to understand more about digital marketing and how to take advantage of the latest ideas in website design, SEO or social media.
Once you know what you want to achieve it’s fairly straightforward to review the schedule for each upcoming conference. Select two or three educational sessions for each of your learning objectives. If you have staff attending the conference note who will attend which sessions, and make a note about what you want them to examine in each session.
Step Three: Be strategic about your networking
Conferences can sometimes seem like a whirlwind of faces and handshakes. So many people to talk to. So many promises to follow up with a call or a meeting. To get the most out of networking at a conference take a strategic approach. Before the conference, take the time to identify the people—vendors, advisors, clients— you want to meet. Think about the people who might be able to help you with your practice objectives. Maybe a marketing person from a distributor or carrier. Perhaps a representative from a software firm. Be clear about what you want from them and review the conference events to see when you might have the best opportunity to meet them.
Step Four: Utilize technology to seal the deal
One of the biggest obstacles to maximizing conference opportunities comes after it is over. You return to your office with a head full of new ideas and a ton of new contacts. But clients and the day-to-day running of the practice can make getting all that follow-up organized difficult to do.
Here’s where technology can help a lot. Good technology can turn the painful process of inputting contact info, scheduling tasks and trying to organize follow-up calls and meetings into a breeze. Even before attending a conference it’s worth identifying how you want to address the follow-up activities. Consider renting or buying a scanner that can digitize business cards. Get your CRM set-up to handle the new contacts and scheduling of follow-up calls and meetings. It will alert you at the right times so you never have to worry about an activity slipping through the cracks. The more steps you can automate, the easier life will be and the more likely you’ll be to capitalize on all the great opportunities you opened at the conference.
The most effective way to get the most out of any conference is come up with a plan beforehand. Identify the key goals for your practice then map out what you want to learn, who you want to meet, and how to implement all of that once you return to your office. Following this simple process will keep you organized, in control and on the way to taking your practice to a new level.