I am sitting in front of my schedule and getting ready to book my travel arrangements for what I call the “Spring Fling.” This year will start with the CompTIA Partner Advisory Council followed by the NSCA Business Leadership Conference, Channel Partners Conference, CompTIA Member Meeting, ISC West and then comes to an end with one of my favorites, TEC 2017.

We know that planning is critical, but the majority of people are reading the agenda for the first time upon arrival.

This spring there is a conflict with a school vacation week. Most of you know from my past articles that my wife is a first grade teacher and that means vacation weeks are like blackout dates. As I prepared my pitch to Jane explaining why she should come with me to Richardson, Texas for a conference instead of the warm waters of the Caribbean, I anticipated a few questions she may have: Why do I participate in these conferences? Why do I take time away from my family, staff, and clients, and give myself twice as much work when I return? Is there a tangible return on the time, costs of travel and the conference fees?

I also spent time reviewing the upcoming conference agendas and also reflecting on my participation in 2016. After a careful review I saw the path for me to assure a great return on my investment of time and money. However it was obvious that I needed a plan to maximize the value of attending, just like in the past.

We know that planning is critical, but the majority of people are reading the agenda for the first time upon arrival.  When I ask them what's their goal they say something like to learn new things, checkout the expo or have fun. All of these are part of a conference experience, but I feel there needs to be something a lot more concrete related to preparation and outcomes. Here are a few suggestions related to maximizing your investment and getting the most out of conferences:

  • Research who this event is meant for and who will get the most out of it before registering. Just because they went last year doesn’t mean they should go again.

  • Consider selecting individuals who align with the content of the event and who could also grow professionally and personally by attending it.

  • If the value of a conference would benefit a specific person consider including the attendance as part of an employee’s career development and compensation plan.

  • Download the conference app to schedule the sessions and get socially connected in advance of the event. If more than one person is attending, divide and conquer.

  • Plan the event a month in advance of attending by picking the sessions, vendors and the people you want to engage with and send them calendar invites.

  • Meet with stakeholders at your company that could benefit from attending the event but can’t. Find out how you can help them while you are at the event.

  • Require whoever is attending the conference to create a written plan identifying what value they will receive from the event and a post summary of their findings.

  • Require the attendees to share the information that they received at the event and to also do two post live documented presentations to staff to share what was learned and how it relates to the organization.

  • If the audience is for solution providers and end users, consider bringing your clients with you and help them make a plan to get the most out of their attendance.


One of the biggest benefits I find of the events is attending the educational sessions. There is a lot of great content delivered by world renowned speakers and also by leaders of companies similar to those attending. I feel there is a great opportunity to not only attend a conference but to also participate as a panelist or moderator. This can be strategic by helping to eliminate the cost to attend and also expanding you and your company’s presence in the Industry.

Please connect with me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulmcronin) to see what sessions I am delivering and stop by. I would love to hear about your conference experience.