These events can get costly ($$s and your time) and it's always hard to tell if they lead to any return on investment (ROI). Are they meaningful or not in relation to what we are trying to achieve? How do we know if we are getting a good ROI?
From my experience, maybe 50% (if that) of the networking events are truly meaningful and I've learned over the years to be more cautious of where I go, how I participate and most importantly, how much I spend. So below are some ways I try to determine that:
- do your research! What is your purpose in attending? Is this something that you need to be involved with? How do you fit in?
- ask questions... Ask the event marketing person about last year's attendance, who attended, how you can participate, what's in it for you...
- if I work on the east coast and the event is on the west coast or across the world, do more research and ask yourself, are there similar networking events that are less costly and more impactful?
- if the event is really worth attending, be more involved... Present, Speak, Exhibit, Sponsor, Conduct Workshops, etc.. I find event attendees are more likely to come to you.
- use technology such as webinars and podcasts using inbound marketing instead of traveling. They can be very effective and cost a lot less.
- most importantly, follow-up with people you meet. You should be having great conversations at the event. Don't be afraid to be persistent.
I'm sure there are even more ways to be more efficient and effective in choosing where you get the biggest return on you dollar and please respond. These are a few that come to mind.