How to Make Conference Attendance Pay Off

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FPA’s annual conference—BE Seattle 2014 is next month. Sure, it’s packed with more than 20 hours of continuing education credits for CFP certificants, but if you go only to fill up your renewal requirements, you will be missing out on achieving essential marketing objectives.

Before you hop on your flight or drive over to the convention center, consider this list of questions about you and your practice:

  • What do you want to create?
  • Where are you stuck?
  • What have you avoided?
  • Where do you need help?
  • Who can help you?
  • Who do you want to meet?
  • What is next in your marketing plan?
  • What skills do you want to improve?

With these answers in mind you can set a high bar for what you want to accomplish at this conference. How can you strategically engage in the conference so you can walk away with tangible next steps for your marketing?

Set 3 Objectives

I challenge you to set three objectives for the conference, with at least one related to your marketing. “I just want to be around my peers,” or “I want to hear what’s new” doesn’t cut it. I want you to clearly state what you will feel fulfilled about when you leave with this “in hand.”


  • “I will identify three other planners who target my specific niche and set up a meetings to discuss ways we can partner.”
  • “I will meet with two journalists to understand their beat and ways I could support them.”
  • “I will meet with the two CRM providers I have narrowed down for consideration and get the information I need to make a decision by X date.”
  • “I will state with confidence my specific target audience at least 25 times during the conference.” (Saying “nearly retired” doesn’t count. Get more specific!)

Maybe you’ve identified some specific personal development skills on which you want to work. If you are generally introverted, for instance, then focus on improving your ability to interact in larger group situations. Challenge yourself with a measurable objective, “I will meet 10 new advisers I don’t know during the cocktail hour(s) and engage at least long enough to know whom I would refer to them.”

Bring It Up a Notch

It is easy to escape to a conference, sit in your hotel room and feel good that you are learning, but that strategy won’t help you with your marketing. You must take your participation up a few notches. How else can you engage in this conference to maximize your return?

When you are attending a conference (especially on your own dime), you start to see that the ROI needs to be more than just a few more hours of CE.  You are in charge of your experience—decide what you want from the event and make it happen.

Now, a question for you: What is the most creative way you have leveraged a meeting of your peers or a conference environment to improve your marketing? Give that some thought and reply here.

See you in Seattle! I’m at table T20, just beyond the demo area in the exhibit hall. Stop by and introduce yourself!

Kristin Harad 2014Kristin Harad, CFP®
Marketing trainer for advisers
San Francisco

Editor’s Note: Meet Kristin in person at FPA’s annual conference—BE Seattle 2014! Stop by the FPA Booth during the opening reception in the exhibit hall between 6 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20 for a meet and greet with Kristin and fellow Practice Management Blogger Maggie Crowley. 

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