Attending a higher education conference is an investment. While the registration itself can be upwards of $500-$1,000 per person, you also have to take into account the cost of flights, hotels, and food while you are there. With that said, don’t let the cost scare you away – conferences truly are an investment.
Since Campus (formerly known as Ucroo) has started planning the events we will attend and speak at in 2018, we wanted to share a few tips on how to ensure you have the best possible experience.
It may seem obvious, but do not wait until the last minute to plan out your agenda for a conference. Doing so may cause you to miss out on meetings with important contacts, forget to register for the best sessions and ultimately pay more for your hotels and flights.
There are thousands of higher education leaders, reporters and EdTech founders at these meetings ready and willing to network – take advantage of that.
We personally spend hours before a conference making sure we’ve found the best contacts to connect with while we are there. In doing so, we have had amazing conversations with some of the most prominent names in higher education that have helped move our business forward. Putting in time before the conference to get in touch with people who you think you can provide value to is well worth the effort.
Talk about it.
Not every company has the ability or the bandwidth to attend high profile conferences, so if yours does, talk about it! Tweet the conference hashtag, let your network know on LinkedIn and blog about what you are excited to accomplish at the event.
Doing this helps build your network by increasing your visibility to the organizers of the event as well as other attendees. We have gained new followers on our social media channels simply by talking about the conference online.
Don’t be afraid to email or call the conference organizers to ask questions about how to make the most of your time there. They are always happy to help and this would put you ahead of most people attending the conference!
We mentioned earlier that a good practice before a conference is reaching out to important EdTech or higher education leaders. If you send one email or make one phone call, and don’t hear back, don’t give up! Think about the value you can provide them and the well of knowledge they can provide to you; persistence is worth it here.
Following up before the conference is great, but post-conference communication is key as well. Send a follow up email listing your top 5 takeaways and ask for theirs too. If you can get some dialogue going, ask to set up a phone call to talk about what it might look like to work together in the future.
What to avoid.
Having a successful conference experience isn’t just about doing the write things, but also avoiding the wrong things. When the Campus team was just getting off its feet, we would receive dozens of requests (and still do) to sponsor a booth at a conference.
This can initially feel flattering, but if you look into it a little more, it’s just another sales tactic. Unless you have a Google or Microsoft budget and can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to do everything exactly right in sponsoring an event, it’s almost never worth it.
We had to learn from our own mistakes early on and take some financial hits because of it. Years have passed since those experiences and we have learned how to take away real value from these events without handing out stickers and doing a raffle for a free iPad in order to get people to talk to you.
If we can do it, we believe you can to! If you have any questions or want to talk more about this, email us in the “get in touch” section above.
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