Wedding Planning Success Lounge: Attending industry conferences
Have you ever attended an industry-related conference? If so, how often do you attend? Once a year or more? If not, what is holding you back from attending one?
I’m a huge advocate of continuous education, it doesn’t matter whether you are new in the industry or you have a decennial experience in your field. You should always learn: in this fast-paced world new trends, technologies and practices come out every single day and it’s our job to keep up to date in order to offer the best service to our clients. That applies to any business and you should attend an industry conference at least once a year.
Conferences are the best place to learn business strategies and the latest trends from the best and most successful in those industries. In order to be a better professional, you need to learn from the successful professionals.
Why You Should Attend
- Learn best practices, products and trends from successful professionals
- Get inspired and consider new ideas for your clients (Learn tips to improve your business and your events, for instance)
- Meet new vendors and suppliers – The trade shows always showcase the latest products on the market and you can see / touch / experience these in person. Some examples: specialty linens, décor items, live entertainment; state-of-the-art lighting
- Network with colleagues and create relationships (these could be business-related and then turn into friendships). It will expand your network and circle of influence. You may even meet members of the media and establish possible PR opportunities or, if you’re new, you could meet a fantastic wedding professional who could become your mentor
- Position yourself as an expert – When you are active and engaged in your industry, you get more attention, you are more respected and you may be asked to speak at future events. Clients will love to work with you because of this as well
It’s very important that you attend the conference in person! Don’t be tempted by those special offers saying “If you can’t attend in person buy the entire block of sessions for half the price of your registration and listen from the comfort of your home”. Tempting it is but, you will miss out on the networking and engaging part (a priceless component in my opinion). Resist to the temptation and just go! You will have fun with your peeps, you will engage in great relationships, and you will come back home recharged. People say “live meetings are done, the internet is here to stay” but I don’t agree, in-person conferences are still successful and definitely worth the investment.
Speaking of investment, conferences can be quite expensive especially when you are starting your business and you don’t have enough to invest but there are some conferences that offer a one-day attendance option so you can start with those. Fees normally range between $400-800 depending on the event and that does not include your travel, accommodation and food. It can definitely be a big expense but you have to keep in mind that you are investing in you, in making your business better and more profitable. What you learn at a conference might land you a couple of weddings so the conference paid for itself (and you made money).
If you have the opportunity to connect with the organizer of a conference that you like, offer to help with planning – logistics – registrations, etc. You might be able to attend the conference for free as a trade 🙂 This happened to me with Stacie Francombe of Inspire Smart Success (in the list below): she offered a 2-day workshop in San Diego where I live and I was the official planner for both days. It was a fantastic experience! The picture in this post is from the full-day seminar (photo credit: Tim Otto)
How To Choose The Right Conference
Do some research and see who the speakers will be, what content will be shared, and what levels of education will be offered (novice, experienced, etc.). Also, create your conference itinerary after you register and the program is available: choose the sessions and speakers that most interest you. If you’re attending with a colleague just don’t follow her or him wherever she or he is going: if she / he is specialized in Indian weddings and you’re not, there’s no point for you to go to a session talking about those three-day Indian wedding weekends (unless you want to start targeting Indian clients). If you are going with an associate of yours then you can assign different sessions and do a recap to each other at the end of the day.
There are several conferences that you can choose in our industry, and there are always new ones every year. Also, professional associations normally organize their own annual conference so you might check them out as well. Below is a list for you to start.
Association of Bridal Consultants Annual Conference
Catersource / Event Solutions
Creative At Heart
International Special Events Society Annual Conference
Inspire Smart Success Experience
The Signature CEO
The Special Event Show
TAKE ACTION ~~~ Start saving to attend a conference of your choice this year. Register as soon as you can and block those dates on your calendar before you make other plans
Which conference do you regularly attend? Which one is or was your favorite? Let’s start a conversation in the comment box below!
Holistic Life Coach, Brain Fitness Coach, and Life-Work Balance Strategist for busy professionals. I blend well-being principles with neuroscience, biohacking, positive psychology, stress management, and mindfulness techniques to implement effective behavior changes.