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Why planning your attendance at industry conferences is a must

If you're like me, you know that there is no shortage of valuable conferences, expos or seminars to attend each year in the credit and collection industry. I always enjoy these events and have found that planning for them in advance helps ensure that the time spent is not only enjoyable but also productive. Here are some steps you can take to do the same.

Establish Goals
Establishing goals as to what you would like to achieve at the event might include:
  • Identifying the individuals you would like most to speak with
  • Gaining insight from colleagues to learn about industry changes
  • Educating others on your services and expertise
Try to Determine in Advance Who Will Be There
In order to achieve these goals, you will need to determine who will be at this event. If you can obtain the attendee list beforehand, or soon after you arrive, you'll be able to focus on who you would like to meet and why.
Your approach to interacting with colleagues will likely be very different from your approach to meeting potential clients. The former usually involves strengthening existing relationships and exchanging information, while the latter requires that you learn about the needs of the individuals and their organizations. When you know who will be present, you'll have a better understanding of who you should meet and what approach to take in your communication with them.

Schedule Your Education Sessions
One of the many benefits of conference attendance is the educational sessions that are offered. Once again, you can usually learn what these will be in advance so that you can be selective on your attendance. It’s generally beneficial to attend sessions that are most directly related to your business. With all of the compliance regulations that keep changing, it's imperative to stay abreast of the latest developments in our industry.
At the same time, there is something to be said for attending a session on a topic that is new and different for you. Sometimes one new piece of information or idea can greatly impact the direction of your business.
The point is, careful planning of your attendance at sessions which expand your knowledge and expertise will no doubt enhance your experience at the event.

Make Connections
Often the most beneficial elements of attendance at industry conferences is the chance to meet with many different people, either formally or casually. Some of the networking opportunities are integral to the conference and others are through your own efforts, which might include:
  • Cocktail hours after the daily sessions
  • Group coffees, lunches or dinners hosted by your company
  • One-on-one meetings
When these kinds of interactions are planned ahead of time, it sets the stage for all kinds of discussions and conversations that can blossom into new business opportunities.

Again, industry conferences and similar events can afford tremendous opportunities but planning ahead is indispensable.

Thomas W. Hamilton more

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