The highest value I can get out of a conference is deciding to not go at all. 🙂
I only go if:
- I’m confident it’ll help me acquire or close new customers
- I’m fundraising and it’s beneficial to meet investors IRL
- I acknowledge a part of it is for me — to take a little bit of a break and feel energized with the enthusiasm of other founders
If I feel oh so compelled to go to a conference, there are specific (sometimes counterintuitive) things I do to ‘make the most of it.’
- I don’t buy a ticket. Most conference tickets are $1k+, the booths and talks are more shill-y than educational, and most of the action exists outside of the actual conference anyway (side events, meeting people, etc.)
- I schedule everything ahead of time. I reach out to the people I want to meet and book it on the calendar. I sign up to events asap and commit to a few I’m confirmed to go to.
- I attend smaller vents vs. bigger ones. If I ever have conflicting events, I default choose to attend the smaller, more intimate event, because I make stronger connections that way.
- I have 1-3 specific goals. Close a customer. Build awareness via a talk. Meet an investor. Whatever it is — I choose a few specific goals and stick to them.
- I block off time to do work. I don’t use conferences as an excuse to not do actual work. Often, there’s enough time in the day to squeeze a Wework session in and get sh*t done. So I do it!
- Stand out. We haven’t felt compelled to setup a booth during a conference quite yet. But, if we ever do, it’ll be an extravagant/eye-catching booth, with the weirdest, most energetic people dressed in fancy costumes greeting anyone that passes by. If you’re paying that much to sponsor a booth, might as well standout!