Today’s marketing leaders have to stay agile to engage customers in meaningful ways. We have to be both entrepreneurs and scientists, innovating, testing hypotheses, and gathering the data that reveals hidden insights. We are asked to drive brand exposure and business growth while keeping customers top of mind. That’s why we come together at marketing industry events throughout the year to share ideas, experiences, and business cards. As you select professional development and networking events for 2017, here are five ways to make the most out of the events you attend:
When deciding what to attend, look for two things: relevance and value. Sometimes the biggest conferences from the biggest names miss the mark. If they’re full of buzzwords but light on insights -- even from a celebrity speaker -- how does that provide value? Before considering whether to attend an industry event, review your internal initiatives and challenges. Then, look for events, speakers, and sessions that tackle those topics.
There’s one more key question: do you want to be pitched? Some conference are just one long sell. If you’re looking for new vendors, that may be helpful. If you’re shopping, look for an event promoting its large exhibit hall filled with companies you’re considering. If the answer is no, however, you’ll have to be more selective. Look for thought leadership, workshops, and hands-on sessions. You’ll likely find more value in smaller events where you can participate and make real connections with peers.
It’s right there in the middle of the word, networking takes work
. Despite the time and effort it requires, there’s nothing as powerful as a relationship to build new business and grow existing partnerships. If networking simply isn’t your cup of tea, consider attending an event with someone from your agency or going to one of their events. Your agency contacts will be able to make introductions and find common conversation points to take the pressure off of you.
Seek out the lessons.
Hear from brands you admire. Learn from brands outside your purview. See what you’re up against. Even the most experienced CMO can benefit from exposure to the marketplace; there may be relatable lessons in how leaner teams make efficient use of budget or how a startup stays agile. You can come away with ideas for new tactics, cultural shifts, and improved strategies to apply to the overall business, marketing team, or your personal leadership approach.
When you have insight into common challenges, you can provide better guidance and input, and even help troubleshoot.
An event can also be a valuable medium for a member of your team to grow his or her vocabulary or skills in a particular area. Or, use it as a way to provide training to someone you’re trying to position for a new opportunity within the team.
Relate and commiserate.
The ideal event experience will include “a-ha” moments as well as “I know exactly how you feel” nods. When you’re in a room of peers, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ve faced similar challenges. In fact, there is a good chance that at least one person in the room will have found (and tested) a solution that you can apply to your own marketing hurdles. What’s more, you may gain a deeper understanding of the issues and roadblocks your team faces. When you have insight into common challenges, you can provide better guidance and input, and even help troubleshoot.
Step away from the computer. And the phone. We all have deadlines and important emails that make it hard to truly disconnect. However, try to limit the number of distractions so that you can absorb the content and experience of the day. The more you put into a session, the more you’ll get out of it. It might even be fun.
To learn more about industry events and Rise’s upcoming programs, visit our events page.