Maximize your industry event participation

When all’s said and done, the most important factor in a successful industry event is the value of networking. For most people, everything else is secondary. The quality of panels is important as it helps bring in the attendees but really, that’s a means to an end. The objective of most people is to uncover business opportunities.

From a conference organizer’s perspective, the secret to a good event is making it attractive to participants. Last week’s @MarketsMedia Fixed Income Trading and Investing Summit is a case in point. They held it at the fashionable Buddakan restaurant, reduced the space for booths (which are expensive for sponsors to manage and are losing their effectiveness, in my opinion), focused the agenda in a 930am-330pm window and left plenty of time for networking. It’s a formula that works, and it works because they considered the event from the perspective of attendees as much as sponsors.

Other lessons to be learned in general from events are that many panelists are not properly utilizing the opportunity to engage in genuine debate. To gain more respect for themselves in the industry and the company they work for, executives should seek to avoid the mention of themselves or selling a product or service, except when asked. Valid opinion drives credibility. Shameless self-promotion has the opposite effect, even though it may not appear so to the speaker.

To make sure you’re doing it right, conference organizers need to keep close tabs on audience feedback. At the Markets Media event, the organizers got a lot of credit for creativity and focus, but there are always opportunities to sharpen the quality of panelists and keep the audience engaged. How do you measure the effectiveness? One way would to do it would be to give voting clickers to all audience members and get instant feedback after each panel or interview. Now that would keep everyone on their toes!

Disclosure: Paragon Public Relations provided support in building the agenda for the MarketsMedia event but takes no credit for hosting the event.

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