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Conferences & Webinars: How to Choose Wisely & Optimize the ROI

Conference and webinar season is in full swing.  I would like to share five key observations based on my experience in attending and designing hundreds of events for corporate finance professionals:

  1. Ask yourself one question, would I pay my own money to attend this event? If not, then you should keep looking. You want to attend an event that you find exciting on some level (even though you are an accounting or finance person). If I could answer yes, 80% of the time I have not been disappointed with an event. Sometimes the marketing is better than the event. That is just reality in our world.
  1. You need to master the art of escape from someone at an event who likes to hear themselves speak, and wastes your time in networking with ours and attending sessions you want to attend. I have been known to “pontificate” a bit myself, but I am good and getting better at reading the body language of “are you done yet”.
  1. The ROI of your time in attending an event (in-person or virtual) is equal to what you put into it.  CPE chasing is a waste of time, research where you will be spending your valuabke time, look at learning objectives, look at the speakers (companies and titles), and the reputation of the program provider (do they deliver on what is promised in the marketing speak).
  1. If you want pure to experience valuable networking go to an event that has specific time for it, or is in and of itself a networking event. Examine how networking is facilitated. Unless you are a great networker, finance people in general are not (I work on this myself all the time), just time for networking will not offer you ROI for making new connections.
  1. Create a take-away for each event. Write it down and do it. If you do, you will be amazed how that improves the ROI you receive, and it will validate if your attendance was valuable. If you can’t come up with one action item after an event, you just wasted your time.

I wanted to share these observations and ask everyone to share the most valuable things they have learned from attending both in-person and virtual finance focused educational programs.

Answers

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

I have been benefiting from relationships established at conferences for a long while. ROI is very difficult to track. If done correctly, the Returns will increase over-time, but not in a straight line.

Prior to the conference - Contact all that you know that will be in attendance and set -up meetings. Conferences are rarely about the material presented, but more about connecting with vendors and clients.

During the meeting - Establish a goal to make one or two connections per day. I do not believe in business card goals. You can pick-up 100's of cards at the bar around 10pm. Have a thoughtful conversation, with an individual that you did not know previously.

After the meeting - Follow-up with quick notes. "Great seeing you. As we discussed..."

Like any effective Marketing program, to ensure your funds are used most efficiently, set a plan and execute on that plan.

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