#Influence2022 will be held in Nashville, TN in July. It will be the 29th time I have attended this annual meeting of the National Speakers Association. I have attended more than 50 workshops, CSP/CPAE Summits, and other events including a marriage weekend for speakers.
This registration cost for this year’s conference is $950 plus travel expenses. Our conference costs, like everything, are continuing to rise. It’s A LOT of money. When I attend a conference, I treat it like a business investment for which I need to determine if the time, travel cost, and conference fees have an ROI of at least double what I pay to attend.
Most years my conference involves an airline fee. Below is an example of how I determine if a conference has a positive ROI:
- Airfare – $500
- Hotel -$175/night (usually 4 but sometimes 5 nights) $875
- Meals $300-$350
- Conference registration $950
- CPAE/CSP banquet (a fun awards night) $50
The total expenditure for me to attend Influence 2022 is $2,750.
Factor in the cost of the conference recordings, the opportunity cost of what I would be doing if I weren’t attending, the cost of time spent planning and scheduling additional meetings, and my total cost to attend is around $5,200
So the value I need get out of attending this conference is almost $8000. That’s a lot of money.
If there’s too much fluff, it reduces my interest in attending. If the conference focuses on topics in which I have little interest or is geared more toward a novice speaker, that also reduces my attendance interest. If there is political content not to my liking, this REALLY reduces my interest.
Unlike some of my clients who attend professional development conferences, I pay 100% of the attendance cost. AND I sometimes attend other conferences in industries in which I frequently speak. I spend big money on conferences. And you should too.
Your professional self-improvement, education, and continuous learning are up to you. If you don’t take proactive action on your own professional development, no one else will.
So what should you do if you can’t afford to attend a professional development conference this year? Here are a few ideas.
- Ask your colleagues who attended what their best takeaways were.
- Schedule a Zoom or conference call with trusted peers to learn about the conference.
- Buy the recordings of the 5 – 7 breakout sessions that were the most popular of the conference.
It’s also important to, with some regularity, attend a conference in your customers’ industry. A great way to do this at minimal expense is to offer to give presentations (even non-paid ones) at these events. Some of my colleagues refer to these as “free speeches”, but I think of them as Strategic Marketing Opportunities (SMOs). I have made thousands and thousands of dollars as a result of SMO’s. You can make “money” too in the form of industry recognition, job offers, and side hustle consulting opportunities. And if the conference is in your field, it’s also rewarding to give back with no exception of any kind of compensation.
Find out about the conference hall talk (what were your associates, friends, and conference attendees discussing in (or even during) the breakout sessions. I rarely attend the breakout sessions, an idea I borrowed from my friend and speaking colleague, Terry Brock. This time can be the most valuable time of your conference. This is where I schedule meetings with people for whom I want to learn.
I often schedule what I called a roving mastermind meeting during NSA events (see my previous article about Circles of Six for more about those meetings). This is usually a two-hour block where I invite four other seasoned speakers to dive deep on a single topic or give each person a block of time to prevent one idea and get feedback from the other attendees. Often this is the biggest ROI of my conference and I’ve been told that by attendees on many occasions.
If you are a young person, don’t have an expectation that you attend your industry conference at the expense of your employer. This is an earned perk achieved by consistently high performance.
Remember it’s up to you and no one else to advance your understanding of your industry and immerse yourself in professional development
NOTE: This is part five of a six-part series. Read last week’s post about why you should exercise six days a week.