An international conference is always a big event to attend, and you don’t want to mess it up.
There’s a lot of preparation involved and it’s not something you should take lightly.
If you are attending a conference like Clean Equity or Interaction 16, these tips will help you to make sure that you have a successful conference without compromising your core business activities.
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The Money Aspect
Money shouldn’t stand in the way of acquiring knowledge and learning new things face-to-face. But realistically flying to an international conference and paying the price to actually attend will set you back a few thousand dollars. Not every business can set aside this sort of money at short notice.
This is why you should always prepare for international conferences well in advance. Make sure that you have adequately prepared so you know what international conferences you want to attend a few months in advance.
It’s easy to plan a conference in the U.S. because you know the lay of the land and you have nothing to worry about, like at the Forbes Under 30 Summit. As long as you find a hotel, you’re good to go. But when you’re travelling to Europe or another part of the world you are operating under an entirely different system and you may need to consider using an international moving company or an international tourism agency to help. Like a business plan, research states that advance planning makes your first few years of operations possible.
For a start, you have to negotiate visas. You may find it easier in some countries than others to get the necessary visas. It’s much easier to attend a conference in France than it is in Russia, for example. Luckily, you only have to declare that you are attending for business purposes, rather than applying for a full work visa.
Different systems are different when it comes to how efficient they are in their processing of applications. Make sure you apply as far in advance as possible to ensure that you are not left missing the conference because your application was lost, or worse, rejected.
Finally, you need to make sure that you have all the necessary accommodation and travel options in place. This can take some planning, but it’s better to do it long in advance than try to do it all at the last second.
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Core Business Activities
You need to make sure that you are going to the conference for the right reasons. This is not your chance to go on vacation and enjoy the sights of a foreign country. Every international business conference has to have some sort of practical purpose. You have to make sure that there’s something there you can take home and use, and this goes doubly so for an international conference.
And in exchange for that information you have to be aware of the impact, it’s going to have on your core business activities. Do you have someone in place who can take over while someone attends the conference?
If it’s going to disrupt your core business activities significantly, you have to think extremely carefully about whether this is the right decision for you.
What Can You Gain?
You touched upon it briefly in the previous section, but you must research the conference in question before you go so you know you have the networking opportunities you need. You should already have a list of people you want to meet. Ideally, you should also have started networking with your targets before you attend the conference. This way you can arrange to meet with them without waiting in a long line of people, and potentially coming up empty-handed.
While you may gain some useful knowledge, this isn’t enough to justify the expense of an international conference. Weigh things up in terms of value for money. Think about whether attending the conference is going to mean your business earning more money.
Think about how you can use that knowledge and how it fits into your current plans.
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Is it the Right Time?
It’s possible to see merit in a conference but looking at all the downsides you decide that it isn’t the right business decision for you. That’s perfectly fine because many companies can’t set aside the resources to attend an international conference. The beauty of many of these conferences is that they are annual events, so if you can’t attend one year there’s nothing stopping you from postponing it until the next year.
Don’t be afraid to do this if you feel that this isn’t the right decision for you right now.
Timing is Everything
As you can see, timing really is everything. You also need to come up with some post-networking strategies. Now that you know what you need to do to prepare for an international conference, which conferences do you have your eyes on in 2016?