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How do you calculate the ROI of attending conferences, forums or workshops? How do you get the most value out of attending these kinds of events?

Rose Robbins's Profile


Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

We recently looked into sending our Inventory & Purchasing Mgr to a Tech show in Vegas and reached out to other agents that we know send their people to ask the same question! Here were some different ideas we heard:

1. They need to bring back X # of take away's with the intent of implementing at least X.
2. They need to bring back X # of things they learned that they didn't know before that others are doing in the industry.

All the feedback was very much in line with these two answers. If we were going to send her, we would have asked that she bring back three to five implementable ideas and present them to the Exec team.
When I send associates to workshops I make a point to ask them how it was, what they liked / disliked, and to tell me what they learned that they didn't already know. I think really it comes down to if you are going to invest the time and money to send someone you need to invest time and energy to seek out the value.

Topic Expert
Joseph Ori
Title: CEO
Company: Paramount Capital Corporation
(CEO, Paramount Capital Corporation) |

I determine my ROI by how many business cards I get and if any new biz is generated within a year.

Topic Expert
Mark Richards
Title: VP Operations and Finance
Company: VP / CFO - Private Company
(VP Operations and Finance, VP / CFO - Private Company) |

When I looked at opportunities for conferences, training, etc. - I looked at how much the total cost (conference, trip, etc.) was as what % of the budget per person. The higher the percent, the more I expected it to deliver

Before approving the conference, etc. - I asked for simple write-up to accompany the request

1) Conference name and purpose
a) Specific reason for why employee sees value in attendance
b) If training, how does this fit with employee development/career plan

2) Likely attendees

3) Estimated cost

4) Potential benefits
a) Business development opportunities
b) Networking opportunities
c) Business issue solutions (e.g. new process, training for specific issue, etc.)
d) Teachable items - what can be brought back to the broader team

I would encourage people to ask around their network to see if anyone they knew had attended prior conferences, training, etc. by the same organization to get their point of view. This step often eliminated a number of conferences, etc. - which were great on paper, but did not live up to their billing.

Hope this helps.


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

I find the most value in attending these events is achieved when you are constantly engaging - arranged meetings before the events; planned lunches; and planned dinners. If I were to attempt to put numbers around it, a conference is essentially - 25% meeting content and 75% relationship development. I am still benefiting from relationships established early in my career, at conferences.

Jan Mazyck
Title: Principal
Company: Mazyck Advisors LLC
(Principal, Mazyck Advisors LLC) |

Conferences are largely about networking/relationship with content being secondary. That said, the opportunity(ies) to follow up on presentation information can be valuable.

Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: VP, Thought Leadership
Company: Stampli
LinkedIn Profile
(VP, Thought Leadership, Stampli) |

You need to make an honest assessment as to why you are attending an event. Is it the technical knowledge, certification credits, networking, all of the above? You should set goals around each reason you are attending, and this will define your ROI in attending. As an example, I have attended events specifically to help me address a specific issue. My ROI in attending was defined by if I was able to address my problem after attending educational sessions (or make connections with practitioners who faced my same issue). Before attending any event you should ask, how can the organization putting on the event help me reach my goals in attending?

Maria Marsala
Title: Financial Advisor Coach, Speaker, Author
Company: Elevating Your Business
(Financial Advisor Coach, Speaker, Author, Elevating Your Business) |

The value starts with a company doing a "go/no go". I like Richard's questions.

I speak at conferences, so I go into the trade shows. It amazes me how many companies are there, that shouldn't be. I mean the audience isn't their ideal client. So why waste your time and resources being at such a place?

I get asked to pay for booths at times. I ask for the demographics. If they don't match who my ideal clients are, I don't do it.

One of my clients does 4 trade shows a year. He's a sponsor at 1. He always walked away with hundreds of cards. Then spends the year running after the folks, in many cases not getting call backs, etc.

When he started to work with me, he created an ideal client profile within his niche. The next event he got 50 cards. They were all pre-qualified and he got quite a bit of business as well as new partners from those 50 cards.

IMO, business is always the value of marketing. For some products/services the point between stranger and client is short (usually lower priced products), it's longer as the price of the product goes up. But as Joseph mentioned -- it shouldn't take longer than a year for the business to show up.

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