The end of January means you have to get yourself ready for another conference season. In the next few months there will be a lot of events which you can attend to learn about search or social media. To hear the latest developments, listen to great speakers and network with industry colleagues.
State of Search will off course be covering a lot of events for you as you are used from us. Even yesterday we could see a post by Jackie about the London Affiliate Conference. And there will be many more in the months to come.
But if you are planning to attend one of the many conferences out there. How will you decide what conference is best for you? Which one to pick? Let’s take a look at some of the elements which will decide what conference you are going to attend and which one you will leave aside.
If you are a marketeer working for a company which you do not own yourself chances are you will have to obey the rules management has set for you. Which in some cases means you get a certain budget to spend on conferences. And if you are your own boss you probably are picky of your wallet so you don’t want to spent a lot of money on a conference you don’t know for sure of whether or not it is worth the money.
In both cases it means you have to make a choice: will you spend your entire budget on one conference or will you divide it on several small ones. If you don’t have much to spend its easy: the bigger events like SES, SMX, Le Web or SXSW are out of the question, the tickets for those events are too expensive. If you do have a budget which is quite reasonable other elements will decide on which event you choose to attend.
One of the elements closely connected to budget is travel: are you willing to travel? If you don’t want to travel a long way, or don’t have the budget to, the search for conferences will be either within your own country or even your own region, depending on the size of your country off course.
Travel means you have to pay for your trip, but you also have to plan it and actually make the trip, so time is essence there. After all, if you are going abroad it is not just the conference days you have to take into account, it is also the days you are traveling. Are you willing to spend time traveling or not? Because if not you should choose an event close to home.
Another part of the ‘time’ element is how much time you want to spend at a conference. Many conferences take more than one day. Can you afford that time away from the office? If not you should consider going to a one day event or getting a single day pass on a multi-day event.
There are many reasons why people attend conferences. Before you make your choice to which conference you want to go you should consider why you are going, it will highly influence which one you will want to choose. Some of the reasons why you could attend a conference:
If you feel you already have enough knowledge there are still other reasons to attend conferences, like networking. The good thing about these events is that many people with the same mind set come together in one place. The ultimate place to network therefore!
If you are looking to network there are a few things to consider. For one thing: are you looking to network (or party) with friends? Or are you looking for new friends or maybe even network to sell? In the first case it is handy to check with your friends where they are going and in some cases you won’t even have to be at a conference, going to parties around that will be enough.
If you are looking to network with new people it might be interesting to go to a conference where there actually is room to network. Check the program if there is a networking drinks session and even better: check if there is an exhibition area, which will allow you to network all you can.
Maybe the main reason for a lot of marketers to attend conferences is to learn something. They hope to find speakers who have more knowledge then they have on the topics they are hoping to learn more about. If you are looking to learn you need to figure out the topics you want to learn about and find the conference which covers that specific part.
If you are looking for knowledge, speakers are highly important. You need to find the right conference which have speakers who are experts in their fields and who not only know what they are talking about, but who also are willing to share. Important here is that you don’t just look at the line up of speakers, investigate if they really bring knowledge to the table. Google them and find out how blogs (like ours) have written about them before.
To send you away on your search for the perfect conference for you some tips on how to to find that conference if you are going for a learning experience:
1. Figure out what topic you want to learn most about
2. Google, go to sites like State of Search and try to figure out who is an expert on the topic you want to know more about. Are you for example looking to find out more about conversion chances are you will find that Bryan Eisenberg or Steven Pavlovich are experts on the topic.
3. Figure out where they are speaking and pick that conference based on the elements described in this post.
4. Prepare which questions you will go and ask those specific speakers
Good luck! And do you have any tips or other elements you feel should be in here?