This week we completed 5 years at Xoxoday. In this article, I am sharing our experiences with business events which we attended during this journey of Xoxoday. Over the last 5 years, I would have attended over 100 business events, conferences, seminars and summits. Collectively, in the company including all founders and team, we have attended or sponsored over 1000 such business events.
I have come across many discussions over years, whether one should or should not attend such events. There are people who crib about wasting their time at an event. Then there are people who are obsessed about attending events or being a speaker at these events. Like any other thing in life, there are two sides to an event too. One has to manage a good balance and definitely participate in the good ones after a careful analysis.
Events provide a good opportunity to hear incredible speakers and meet some of the best business veterans which might be otherwise inaccessible to you. One can get to know the latest trends in the industry in a single day. One can connect with a large number of relevant people from different locations in a single day which otherwise might take months to do so. In today’s dynamic digital business age, events are even more crucial and provide a great platform to have F2F interactions. It is the people that bring the ROI to your time at these events. They are opportunities for serendipity, where you might come across something great which you never thought of or never knew about.
At Xoxoday, we got fresh and external perspectives by attending these events over years. We met a lot of potential clients and suppliers, gained industry insights, market trends, interacted with subject matter experts, met potential hires, and investors during these events. Some of our acquisitions happened when we came across an interesting start-up working in a similar industry as ours. The insights have helped us fine tune our business model, marketing strategy, sales methods and customer satisfaction over time. Sometimes we have come across products or tools which have helped us improve our own processes, products, or methodologies.
Here are TEN recommendations for people looking out to attend business events:
- There are thousands of events which happen globally every month. These events cater to different industries and different target audiences. Check the most relevant as per your industry, interests, price etc.
- Carefully check the venue, organizers and speakers in the events. A good event would generally have good quality in each of these.
- Go to an event with an open mind. Don’t expect that every event you attend would give you a great ROI. Some events might be great and some might turn out to be really bad. Don’t think too much on the bad ones, focus on what you got from the good ones.
- Send the right person from your office to attend the event. The person attending the event should be from relevant department and hierarchy depending upon the event. Same event might be useful for one and totally useless to another person in same office.
- Go prepared to leverage the event to the maximum. List down who you want to meet, what you want to discuss with them, etc. List down which particular session you need to attend or miss. Do not just go with the mindset of ‘network with all’. One cannot have meaningful conversations with hundreds of people in a small span of time. Do a bit of homework on who are those few you really want to ‘network’ with. Carry your business essentials likes visiting cards, devices, demos, etc as per need.
- If you are generally a speaker at an event, choose your event carefully. PR is an outcome for a speaker and thus should not be the goal. There are people obsessed with sharing their ‘thoughts’ with the audience to earn that PR in too many events. Note that, you might get hundreds of opportunities to become a speaker at an event but if you grab each opportunity, your personal and work priorities will suffer. Take speaker slots only if you have some real value for the attendees and yourself.
- Don’t attend an event at the cost of something which is much more crucial for your business. If you are a large co-founding or management team, you can still manage time between events. But if you are too few, weigh your options and be very selective about the events you should attend.
- Don’t expect you can make a deal during an event. It’s a good opportunity to connect, know a person or company for later conversations or follow ups.
- Don’t attend events just because you are looking for ‘funding’ or ‘investors’. Seek out events only if they add value to your business or yourself.
- Avoid events where you feel there is repeated audience, speakers or panels.
Events are essential for businesses to understand the dynamics of the industry and stay connected. It’s an investment in yourself, your career, and your company. It’s admitting that you still have things to learn. The idea is that sometimes you have to take a break from regular office to sharpen your skills by learning from experts in these conferences. Some speakers and conversations can spark your innovation, creativity, inspiration, and motivation. A good conference helps you to grow and challenge yourself. You explore good food, good locales, and add some new friends. Overall it’s a unique convergence of networking, learning, and fun into a single package. So attend good events when you have time.
As Francis Bacon said, reading makes you a full man, conferences a ready man.