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How to Justify Going to an Interesting Conference or Meetup

Especially on a gray rainy day, inspiration is always very welcome. Going to a conference or meetup, to me, is like coming out of a hole. It brightens my day and turns the future into an opportunity. While I don’t always like the networking part- that seems to be a must nowadays – I like going to conferences and meetups to get inspired by the enthusiastic speakers, their stories, and experiences.

Time consuming

While going may be fun and inspiring, it is time consuming. So, how to justify the time commitment?

It would be silly to have the weather or your mood decide whether or not to go to a conference or meeting. A rainy day probably is the perfect excuse not to go!

How to make most out of each and every conference or meetup, so that you always have the perfect justification to go? 

Meeting new people

Do you also, when you get back, first unload your bag from the business cards and vendor brochures?

While doing so, I think back about the pleasant conversations, smile, and then perhaps send a note and connect on LinkedIn.

Usually that is where “meeting new people” ends. The conversation at the conference was a spark of inspiration. The connection could be valuable, however, given the time and money it takes to attend a meeting in person, not a return that will justify going to any conference or meetup.

New clients

As business owner, I have to justify and approve my own trips and I am not a very lenient boss.

I force myself to prepare for each meeting, to ensure I make the most out of the trip. Among others I try to be a better scout. Who will be there, who could and should I catch up with?

In addition, I follow up more actively in the hope of landing a new client. This has worked a few times. Although one meeting is clearly not sufficient to convince a client to buy your services. At most, it is the start of a conversation.

If I knew every meetup I attend would result in a new lead, that would be awesome. It would justify going to every single meeting. However, if I am honest with myself, I know I am not able to pull that off, because it is not 100% in my control.   

A better justification

A downside of the approach above, is that I ended up going to conferences and meetups where potential clients are only. I learned a lot about their challenges and problems, which is super interesting.

However, the content of the talks was rarely applicable to me. I am certainly curious to know how eDiscovery benefits lawyers and their clients, however, it is of no direct use to me.

In healthcare, I am intrigued by how powerful and effective simple improvement practices can be. Low tech solution literally can save hundreds of lives, while requiring just minor adaptations and investments. More impact than most new drugs and medical devices ever will have. However, again, these lessons are only indirect applicable to Organizing for Innovation. They are not the source of inspiration I am looking for on a gray and rainy day.

Thus, I also make time to go to conferences and meetups where talks are given for entrepreneurs. Meetings, where the presented ideas and suggestions are applicable and valuable to me. However, that is only true, if I also make the effort to act on the information just learned.

To justify going to these meetings, I identify and act upon the one change I want to make afterwards.

On the way home, I evaluate and select one practice or idea that I will commit to try and implement. Just one. Such as for instance making better use of the search capabilities of LinkedIn to reach out to new people, or implementing Google Adwords.

Then, in the days and weeks following, I make sure to see this initiative through, often, experiencing great and unexpected outcomes.

The best justification

The best justification, comes from being inspired and taking action on ideas for new service opportunities that arise at the conference or meetup.

For example, recently at a tech conference, I noticed that there were many vendors and CIOs, but very few professionals (lawyers at Legal Tech and physicians at Health Tech Net). That is a problem. As without being used by providers, big data, artificial intelligence, etc. are not going to benefit patients or clients.

It also made me realize that there could be a silver lining. The vendors complained that it took forever to find a champion in each organization to promote and implement their solution. Organizing for Innovation could bridge that gap by offering complimentary services, to help interested professionals to act upon the opportunity and implement it in their practice or organization. After all, our tools and training sequence provide physicians, lawyers, engineers and other professionals with the means to get approval for their innovation projects and bring new solutions to practice in a revenue-generating manner.

Testing ideas on the spot

I went back to the exhibit hall, and started asking vendors to get better insights in their problems and challenges with reaching clients and implementing their solutions. The first 10 vendors I spoke to were all interested and keen on exploring the opportunity further. I took that as a serious indication that there may be something there.

As a side note, I have also had plenty of ideas that sounded very promising to me while listening to a talk, but where not. For these ideas, after asking 5 to 10 people, it was clear that I would be addressing a non-issue. That however is valuable information too, as it saves me from exploring unfruitful ideas.

Thus, the biggest advantage of a conference or meetup, is that you have the immediate opportunity to explore the underlying problem and reach out to potential collaborators. Right there and then, and in numbers that would otherwise take you weeks if not months to accomplish.

Taking action on a new idea clearly justifies visiting any conference or meetup. It enables you to start the process of creating and building a new revenue stream, which makes it worthwhile to attend any conference or meetup.

So next time you want to visit a conference or meetup

Don’t go to a conference or meetup just to come out of your hole and to go back in thereafter.

Get inspired, from getting out of your office, away from behind your desk, and out of your daily routine. Prepare beforehand if you want to meet potential clients. Yet don’t focus on meeting clients only. Such a limited objective may prevent you from seeing greater opportunities, such as trends you can use to your advantage. Insights that will enable you to create new revenue streams.

Last but not least, it is the acting upon the inspiration or take-aways from the conference or meetup that justify going. So, next time, go out there and change the world for your clients, organization, and profession!




P.S. Wondering how this applies to you, since you already struggle to get the time and resources to go to that interesting conference or meetup in the first place? Where to find the time and resources to act upon your ideas afterwards? Consider signing up for our Champion your innovation project from the bottom up – Challenge. As part of the challenge, you will learn how to justify going to that interesting conference or meetup, successfully act upon your ideas, and obtain the necessary support and resources from your organization to do so.