Tagged: Conference

How to Choose the Best Conference for You

Whether you’re a blogger, freelancer, entrepreneur, or small business owner, you’ve probably attended or considered attending a conference in your field. What you’ve most likely discovered in researching or going to one is that they’re a major investment of your time and money. Unfortunately, finding the right conference can be a bit like finding the right hair stylist – you don’t know if it’s going to be amazing or disappointing until you’ve paid up and sat in the chair. So before you budget, save, and book your next conference, be sure you choose the best one for you and your business. Ask yourself these five important questions, and check out these great, comprehensive resources to help you research and register for your next conference.


What’s resources do you have?

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Before you start looking for a conference you should determine the resources you have to invest – ask yourself, what’s my budget and how much time do I have? Some conferences are only half a day and may cost around $100, while others can span over the course of several days and cost close to $1000 or more. It’s important to be clear on your resources before you go searching so you don’t over extend yourself. You can expense a conference to your business, but you still need to be certain your finances are intact before committing. It’s also essential that it works into your personal and professional calendar. Even if the conference is booked out further than your work schedule, you’ll be able to notify your clients accordingly.


Where do you want to go?

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Now that you’ve got an idea of the time and money you can invest in a conference, you can determine where you want to go: somewhere local, somewhere out of state, or somewhere international. This decision may be dictated by the resources you have, but there are other factors to take into account when choosing a location. Do you want to connect more deeply with your regional network? Do you want to gain more national exposure? Do you want to experience your industry from the perspective of another culture? While contemplating these questions, you should keep your target audience and client base in mind in addition to the personal growth you hope to achieve.


How do you learn best?

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Once you’ve covered the logistics of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there, you can focus on what you want to gain from the conference. In my experience, taking into account your personal learning style is one of the most important steps you can take in choosing the best one for you. Think back to academia – did you thrive in a larger or smaller class size? Consider lectures or workshops you’ve attended in your professional life – do you enjoy engaging with the speaker and other attendees or do you prefer to soak it all in with your eyes, ears, and notepad? Being clear on the type of environment in which you’re going to learn most effectively is essential to having the best possible conference experience.


Why do you want to attend?

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Knowing the purpose or intention behind why you want to attend a conference is also key. It’s pretty easy for a conference to catch your eye just because the price is right, the location is convenient, or the lineup of speakers is amazing. However, if you don’t know what knowledge, skill, or connection you want to walk away with at the end, you could be left with a great experience and nothing to show for it. Are you hoping to build and expand your network or are you looking to learn a new skill or more about a particular subject matter? Maybe you’re at a transitional moment in your career or planning to expand your business in a big way, and you need more insight before you get started. Determining why you want to attend will help you to have the best conference experience.


Who do you want to connect with?

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Whether your primary goal is to network or not, you will have the opportunity to connect with others no matter what conference you attend. Considering who you want to connect with is one more factor to take into account as you hone in on your decision. Do you want to connect with peers in your field, industry veterans, or potential clients? Peers are pretty easy to engage with at any conference, but if you want to be able to interact directly with the speakers or presenters, you should consider one with a more intimate atmosphere. Conferences are also a place to connect with potential clients – just look for a one that’s hosting companies, brands, or sponsors on site.


Resources

Now that you have a clearer picture of what you’re looking for in a conference, it’s time to start searching! Check out these three awesome and comprehensive resources to get started:

  1. iBlog Magazine
  1. The Blog Stylist
  1. Forbes
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Go Blog Social Conference Highlights

Last weekend I attended a blogging conference in Chicago hosted by the Kansas City based blogger collective Go Blog Social (GBS), founded by PR expert Kathryn Mansur of Everyday Chic and Sarah Ruhlman of Sarah Scoop. GBS was designed to inform, educate, and inspire bloggers, social media experts, and brands through unique networking events and conferences. After attending my first GBS event, I would say they achieved just that!

The line-up of speakers at this Chicago based conference was pretty impressive, and it was a prime opportunity to network with dozens of fellow bloggers. So, I wanted to share some of the highlights from the event, and encourage other bloggers, entrepreneurs, and creatives to attend GBS’s next event in February 2015 – the first ever GBS Workshop, offering a variety of hands-on, interactive courses.


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Photographed by Christina Slaton


SPEAKER 1 – MARITZA BUELVAS of BEAUTY FOR BLOGGERS

Key Piece of Advice:

Put your best face forward. Your hair and makeup are just as important to your brand as your outfit and accessories when styling a look.

P.S. Maritza makes awesome use of videography to share her approach to beauty and teasers for her workshops. Be sure to check them out on her YouTube channel!


SPEAKER 2 – ALISON RAY of SASSY MOMS IN THE CITY

Key Piece of Advice:

It’s never too early to start pitching yourself to brands for partnerships. If you’re new to blogging and don’t have a particularly impressive portfolio or media kit, focus on what you can do not what you’re doing. Constantly, actively create your own opportunities!


SPEAKER 3 – HELENA SWYTER of SWEETER CPA

Key Piece of Advice:

If you’re a blogger gaining money or product from your partnerships, you are a business! Track your income and expenses, know which legal structure is best for your business, and make sure your taxes are in order! Need help? Contact Helena!


SPEAKER 4 – FARISSA KNOX of WHATRUWEARING

Key Piece of Advice:

First, I have to say, this was one of my favorite takeaways from the day: Make a list of every job you’ve ever had (from the first job you had as a teen), and write down the responsibilities and lessons learned from each position. You may feel your professional history is irrelevant to your career, but you will be surprised at how your past experience translates to the role you want if you take a few minutes to do this exercise!


SPEAKER 5 – CAIT WEINGARTNER of PRETTY AND FUN

Key Piece of Advice:

Start a practice each January (or hey, why not right now?) of writing your big goals for the coming year on a post-it note. The size of the post-it allows you to keep the list straightforward and attainable. Keep the note somewhere you will see it every day – your desk, refrigerator, bathroom – and at the end of the year, assess what you achieved and ask why you accomplished the goals (or not).


KEYNOTE SPEAKER – DANIELLE MOSS of THE EVERYGIRL

Key Piece of Advice:

You never know where a partnership might take you. There may not be tangible pay (like money or product) attached, but in some cases, the payoff from an “unpaid” opportunity can have a greater reward.