OK, so it’s a cliché, but what it lacks in creativity it makes up in clarity. You want to get the maximum return for your investment of time and money. A little planning always helps.
I like lists, so here is mine for the possibilities of getting the most out of your convention attendance:
Just getting away for a few days can be great and the costs are deductible. If the convention is only 2 days think of adding a day or two before and/or a day or two following. Transportation cost will be the same and deals can be made for the extra days. If not, stay somewhere else nearby.
Find out what is happening in the city and plan on going to at least one venue that the city is noted for. Take in a ball game or other sporting event, a local theater, museum, or park.
Offshore Fishing? Lake fishing in Florida or Great Lakes? Line up some buddies and go for it. Splitting the cost can make it very reasonable. A round of golf? The point is to get a little vacation time in. Planning is key.
One of the best opportunities at a national, or even a regional conference, is networking. Who do you need to meet with? A significant vendor, a colleague who is not a direct competitor, a potential consultant in an area where you need help? Getting to know key Staffing Association personnel can very helpful. Often key individuals have contacts with important governmental compliance agencies that they be willing to share or consultants for updating client contracts.
Association officials often have some mutual interests like directing traffic to their website. Do they have a Blog that you could contribute to? That benefits the Association and your company. Think SEO for your own website.
Getting to know key people at vendor companies can be very helpful. Staffing Software is a crucial element in most staffing companies and understanding certain features and updates will allow your company to get the maximum benefit at no increase in cost.
Depending on your situation, other vendor contacts can be equally important. Make an appointment for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a private, one on one, meeting over a cup of coffee or cocktail. A convention is a great place to get together personally.
A national staffing association (SIA and ASA in particular) makes it a point to bring in speakers with considerable knowledge experience in various aspects of the modern staffing company.
Specific learning “Tracts” are available for CEO’s and other management personnel as well as other professionals involved in sales, marketing, recruiting, and training. Often CE units are available towards professional certifications.
Breakout sessions ensure that every individual’s experience has an opportunity to be expressed for the benefit of all. I would guess that at every convention, at least, 50% of the learning is gained in these forums.
It is important for you, your staff, and your clients to know that your company makes significant investments in professional training that is largely available through attendance at staffing industry events.
The results are apparent in much better service and, therefore, in employee and client retention. Everything works better. Your reputation for competence spreads with nearly every placement because of better recruitment, training and core staff supervision.
When you or any member of your staff goes to a national or regional staffing association event, you should write up a news release with appropriate head shot and position of the employees attending.
Make copies of the resulting newspaper clips and include them in your presentation materials and advertising.
If you have a company newsletter that goes to your clients and prospects, make sure it makes note of this participation. Ditto for posts on your Social Media platforms.
This would be included under the general topic of “Learning” but I believe it should be singled out as a benefit of attending association conferences. National & regional staffing association meetings most always cover compliance issues so make note of these conference updates in everything that promotes your company.
If, in the future, your company is visited by a governmental agency for any compliance issue, your history of attention to these matters will serve you well.
What you learn about compliance issues at these conferences, including the materials and resources used, can be brought into your in-house training program. In addition to formal presentations, there is a lot of other information available from your fellow conference attendees. Make sure to ask.
Negotiating with Vendors
A conference exhibit hall brings together, face to face, sellers and buyers of products and services important to your industry. This is not just an opportunity to “meet and greet” but, if the time is right, to begin a negotiation.
Finalizing a deal may not be convenient in the hall itself but there is usually a nearby coffee shop or hospitality suite for more serious discussion. Make use of this opportunity, tomorrow you may be thousands of miles apart.
Like most good companies you are constantly engaged in grooming talented staff members for advancement. They become more valuable to you and to themselves.
A national or even regional staffing convention can be both a learning event and a recognition of an employee’s value to the company.
A final note on getting the “Biggest Bang for the Buck” would be to plan for the meeting then relax and have fun. There is no substitute for enjoying what you are doing. It is a major key to success.