Investment management conferences present great opportunities to learn from the best and the brightest. And with two of the most popular ones each year being held in back-to-back weeks in May for the first time in recent memory, it’s a good time to review some of the ways to get the best return on investment at a conference in terms of your time and money.The Investment Company Institute’s General Membership Meeting and the Morningstar Investment Conference will attract thousands of investors, financial advisors, fund industry leaders, and scores of media representatives.One great connection can lead to new job opportunities, client leads, or investment insights. A new idea, if it’s the right one, can lead to significant positive change in your daily approach and your business. Simply put, good things happen when you know good people.
Here are 10 tips to help you achieve a top-decile conference ROI.
1. Determine what goals you most want to achieve ahead of time.
Prioritization is key. Do you want to network? Land new clients? Meet a specific individual? Learn from the conference speakers? All of the above? As Ben Franklin put it, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
2. Make a list of people you want to meet.
Most conferences no longer provide lists of attendees. But they do provide lists of exhibitors and featured speakers. Determine who you want to see and why you want to see them and set a minimum number of people on your list you will interact with each day.LinkedIn is a great resource for learning ahead of time about people you haven’t met. Perhaps you have common connections, belong to the same groups, or attended the same college. Knowledge is power.
3. Schedule media interviews to enhance brand identity.
This is an area where talented professionals with strong knowledge of mutual funds and ETFs can help build your brand, whether you’re a financial advisor, a senior manager, or an investment professional.Reporters attend many of the general and breakout sessions, but they’re always on the lookout for timely and relevant information their competitors don’t have. The best reporters are open to fresh angles that transcend the ‘group speak’ that comes from panels.As an example, more than 60 members of the media have said they plan to attend the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago. There’s nothing a reporter likes more than good information others don’t have.Related: The Most Powerful Force in the Investment Universe
4. Join the 21st century and tap the power of social media.
One of the best ways to stay connected with not only attendees of the conference, but also with those who didn’t attend but want insight into the conference is through social media.Most conferences will have a Hashtag setup (ex. #MIC for the Morningstar Investment Conference) to give live updates on the events taking place. This is a great opportunity to not only follow what is happening at the conference, but also engage in conversation with others either at or interested in the conference.Beyond just following the conference's hashtag, using platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with those you have met gives you the chance to engage and follow up on leads long after you are back home. No longer should you only exchange your email, if you want a higher return on investment, think about including your social media tags on your business card as well.
5. Set your individual conference schedule in advance.
Conference organizers distribute some weeks, if not months ahead of time for a reason. They want to provide the greatest value for attendees. It stands to reason that the same logic applies to you.Make sure you know what sessions you want to attend, where they are, and plan to arrive early. It’s surprising how many first-time attendees to a conference don’t check a floor plan in advance and find themselves scrambling to find the breakout session they’re looking for at the last minute.
6. Become a ‘power conference player’ by packing a power strip.
In addition to making certain your laptop and phone remain fully charged, investing in a six-outlet power strip will make you one of the most popular attendance at any conference other than the speakers themselves.Providing a conspicuous way to help a stranger is a great ice breaker. Have a few simple conversation starters ready, such as asking someone about the most valuable thing they’ve learned at the conference so far. There’s nothing better than a win-win.
7. Be able to recite your unique elevator pitch.
What do you usually say when someone asks what you do? Take the time to define and rehearse your best answer. It needs to be a clear, concise statement that specifically describes how your role and how it adds value for others.Here’s an example:“Ivy McLemore & Associates is a marketing and public relations firm that specializes in serving investment management companies seeking to gain and maintain a competitive edge and grow assets through the effective use of strategic communications. We use a collegial, collaborative, and compliance-friendly approach.“Our value proposition begins with a thorough working knowledge of the investment management industry and proven ways to deliver superior communications to your specific target audiences and help achieve your business goals. We rely on 60 years of work in the media, investment management marketing, and corporate communications to deliver effective solutions to our clients.”
8. Collect valuable contact information by scanning business cards.
Everyone needs business cards. But who keeps them after a conference has ended? Using an app like Adobe Scan can make life – and information retention – much easier. You can even place the scans in separate files based on future needs.
9. Take copious notes of what speakers say.
When attending a conference, take the same approach you did when attending lectures in college. You paid money – conference fees or tuition - for the privilege of learning from experts and using that information in a beneficial way.Since the mind tends to better retain what we actually write, act like you’re a student again and want to make a good grade on your next exam by paying attention and taking great notes.
10. Create post-conference content for clients
Content produced during and just following a conference can be a valuable and cost-effective communications tool. Clients recognize that you took the time, made the effort, and spent the money to stay in step with industry best practices.A knowledgeable professional with a clear and thorough understanding of the subject matter has the ability to provide thoughtful and timely insight to financial advisors and investors. Unless you’re a professional writer or regularly produce thought leadership articles, devote your time to what you do best.