The dread of most networking events, especially those that come with a hefty price tag is the question, “What’s in it for me?” Sure, you want to network. You want to meet new people. But is it worth the price of admission at $20, $60 or $100just to network? Maybe. Maybe not. This is precisely why businesses and nonprofit organizations around the country are jumping on the conference bandwagon. A day-long or multi-day conference produces more than just networking.
The Benefits of Attending a Conference:
- Because conferences are usually a full day or multi day activity, you’ll blend your time networking with learning time attending workshops and listening to speakers. Sure, you want to network, but you don’t need to do it all day.
- Often because conferences are professional development opportunities, your employer will pay for part or all of your fees to attend. This usually doesn’t happen with networking-only events.
- You’ll have the opportunity to meet giants in your field or locale. Conferences can often attract large sponsors, which usually means being able to pay for or attract big-name speakers as well. At small networking events, CEOs aren’t usually in tow. But at large conferences, you may have more access and opportunity to meet and network with these business giants.
If you think you’d like to attend a conference in your area, the next big thing is to find the right conference for you. But how do you find a women’s conference that is both worthwhile for you and reputable for your field or area.
- First, look for conferences run by your state or the office of your state’s first lady. One of the largest women’s conference in the world is the California Women’s Conference, spearheaded by Maria Shriver when she was the first lady in California. Other state conferences include Massachusetts, Texas, and Pennsylvania. The great thing about state conferences is that their budgets are usually larger, meaning they can afford big name speakers like Cathie Black, Carly Fiorina and the like.
- Next, look for local nonprofit organizations that support women’s economic development or women in business. Many nonprofit organizations, specifically those with programs for women entrepreneurs, will hold one day conferences that are incredibly valuable. Usually their speakers are focused more locally, but can often be great networking and learning opportunities.
- Finally, search for industry specific events. If you’re looking for an industry event, you can usually find parts of your industry that are female specific. For instance, there’s a fantastic national conference on Marketing to Women call M2W, and many women lawyers organizations have local and national conferences. Look for your industry leaders and ask where they’re speaking.
Going to a women’s conference can mean meeting your new business partner, your best friend, or someone who can get you that big job you’ve been looking for. Or it can just teach you valuable skills you’ll use to get to the top. Either way, it’s the perfect combination of networking and learning to get your career moving in the right direction.