How To Maximize Your Conference Attendance

Conference season will soon be upon us, which begs the question: to attend or not to attend? The assessment of who is going to be at the conference and what value you can extract from it can feel overwhelming because a clear picture of who will turn out almost never becomes clear until you’re walking the lobby on Day 1. Some conferences are now even charging attendees (some of whom are speaking on panels) for the official attendee lists before the conference. We recommend that you avoid “chasing” conference LPs and instead focus on the ideal target LPs you are seeking to build a relationship with for the future – and then focus on conferences where these LPs will be speaking or present. Conferences are a great resource for knowledge but are a part of an overall investor relations/outreach strategy, not a strategy unto themselves.

What can be done to make the most out of your time? In short, breakfasts. Many LPs are required to participate in short “speed dating sessions” and therefore their schedules are more restricted than you would assume. What they can and will do however is take a breakfast meeting at the hotel before the day kicks off. Who doesn’t enjoy getting a leg up on the competition while fueling up for a long day of meetings and networking?

Sideline meetings are another great way to make the most of your attendance at the conference. Reserving a meeting room or even converting a hotel suite can be a great way to have some productive meetings onsite with investors. We typically recommend keeping these meetings to a shorter length (30-40min) and using an abridged presentation more suited to this type of discussion.

Lastly, speaking on panels is worthwhile when chosen wisely. The last day of a conference is typically very poorly attended, so you want to make sure that the panel is during a prime time. You also want to make sure the other panelists and moderator are well-respected speakers. A good panel is less about the topic and more about the group that’s driving the narrative. If the other panelists are respected and a draw, you’ll benefit from their popularity and it will help amplify your brand and message.

In short, the action at conferences happens off the floor. It surrounds the event. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet LPs in the city after the conference and focus the bulk of your time at the conference meeting LPs that have traveled in from other places. It’s about preparing for the conference weeks in advance and creating a schedule outside of the program events that will serve your fundraising needs more specifically.

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