From flat lay photography to business finance, there’s a conference, seminar or workshop for everything in this industry! This wasn’t the case when I started my stationery business in 2004. We didn’t even have resources to Google! It was daunting, to say the least. Now, the bigger challenge is finding the right conference. How do you know what will pay off? Which is the best fit for your needs? Let me tell you: not all education is created equal. So, before you invest your hard-earned cash into something that isn’t going to help you grow, here are 3 tips to help you select the workshops, seminars and conferences that will have an impact on your business in 2019 and for years to come.
Ask yourself: where do I want to grow this year?
What do you want most from this educational opportunity? Some questions to consider:
- What are some soft spots that you have in your business?
- Are these areas for which you need to sharpen your skill set?
- Is there something new that you want to learn that would help you grow the business? (offer better services, tap into a new market)
- What is your greatest challenge? Find 3 areas that you want to grow in and make this the basis for your investment.
- It’s easy to just go with the flow… follow the masses to a seminar or conference. BUT – you really need to stop and think: is this where I need to be right now? Is this what I need to get to the next point in my business? How will I grow (intellectually) by attending this seminar?
Pro Tip: Once you identify those business goals, put the Aisle Planner platform to work and create a project specifically to manage your business or individual business projects!
RESEARCH HARD and BE super selective.
This is one recommendation that I cannot emphasize enough: do not follow the fluff. (Unless you need more fun and less knowledge. Then – a fluffy workshop or conference can have its place and time… without question, we just need a mental break every now and then. I get it!). If you’re looking to deepen your knowledge base though, make sure that you are going to walk away with tangible tools to use in your business. You should comb through the conference website and look for key takeaways that apply to what the goals you’ve identified:
- What deliverables will I walk away with?
- Am I going to be given a step-by-step approach for this new skill I want to learn?
- Will I be able to implement this when I get home?
- Will the other people attending this workshop give me additional value? (so much learning comes from the conversations you have with others on breaks and meals)
- Is the content solid?
Be SCRUPULOUS with the conference organizers and presenters.
In a nutshell: do these people know what they’re talking about? As wonderful as it is to have so many educational opportunities via conferences, seminars, retreats and workshops in our industry these days, there is a lot of misinformation and suspect claims of expertise out there. Some people are talking about things that they have done in their business which are wrong and/or illegal (hello illegal contractors!) while others proffer insights and points of view with little to no experience to back them up.
Some things to consider:
- What are the backgrounds of the organizers and presenters?
- Do the presenters have a background that compliments yours… areas that can augment your weaknesses?
- What is the reputation of the organizer? It is hard to pull off a well-planned conference or workshop. (h-a-r-d, people.) Make sure that the organizers have the planning chops to execute on a multi-day event.
- What experience do the speakers and organizers have? (They may not need to have 10 years in the industry to have knowledge but they do need to have some solid experience – whether it is in the industry or outside the industry.)
- Do the speakers have speaking experience? (Listen – this isn’t a deal-breaker for me. I’ve heard some incredible first-time speakers that blew my socks off but I’ve also sat through some very poorly put-together presentations too.)
- Is this person a leader in his or her market? (Generally, if the person is a leader in their market, they will commit the same level of professionalism to their presentation as they do to their business.)
One last thing to consider… sometimes it’s good to get your learning outside of the industry. We are trapped in a bubble and it’s good to see what people are doing successfully in other small business industries. Local business workshops can also be incredibly valuable!
If you’re looking for some solid wedding industry conferences, make sure to check out Be Sage Conference: www.besageconference.com this January 28-31 in Miami. I promise: NO FLUFF.
Michelle Loretta is a business consultant and financial strategist for wedding and event professionals. As founder of Sage Wedding Pros she blends her past as an accountant for Deloitte, a sales and marketing manager for DDLA, a merchandiser for Coach, and a stationery entrepreneur to strengthen wedding businesses worldwide. Sage Wedding Pros produces the next-level summit Be Sage Conference. Michelle has been asked to speak at a number of industry conferences, including NACE Experience, Biz Bash Live, and The Special Event.