Thursday, October 18, 2018

Conferences to Left of Me, Seminars to the Right - Totally Confused

In the past year my email has been flooded with so many Seminars and Conferences that they all seem to be about the same thing. “What’s New in Modular and Offsite Construction”


Many of these events feature the same people talking about the same thing at every one of them but the conference theme is different.

If you attended each one there would be no time for work unless you are one of the speakers earning $5,000 or for each canned speech.

Now that housing is doing great there seems to be more of these events to attend because people finally have money to spend and the event organizers know that all too well.

There are multi-day conferences on Plywood, Modular Marketing and Sales, CLT lumber, prefab offsite, commercial modular, Investing in offsite, hotel and other prefab projects and so many others. And these events are localized. England is a big event destination as is the West Coast and New England.

So how do you know which to attend? Here are some tips for choosing wisely.

Budget. Decide how much you can spend. You may attend one giant conference and spend thousands, or pick several smaller conferences. Or both. Start with how much you want to spend, then find the conference or combination of conferences that works. Don't forget to factor in travel, lodgings, meals, and entertainment.

Set goals. What do you most want to learn? Are there conferences that address your specific needs? If you plan to attend more than one, look for a progression. For example, one conference might focus on prefabricated wall panel, one might cover SIPS, one might cover Energy and High Performance and another might focus on growth and innovation.

Evaluate speakers. If you are going to learn something from a conference (big or small) you want to make sure the speakers are in line with the housing industry. If you a modular factory owner or builder on the East Coast does it make sense to attend a conference featuring speakers on High Tech panelization and homeless housing in California?

Networking. If your friends or competition are going, you might want to take that into consideration. It's easy enough to find out, most people post on social media. Do you want to meet new people? Connect with a specific audience? Re-connect with people you've met before? Conferences are unique networking opportunities, so look beyond the speakers and consider the target audience. Network, network, network.

Assess the logistics. Whether you choose a small conference with a few thousand people or a large one with tens of thousands, you can only be in one session at a time, and distance between back-to-back sessions may be a factor. Look at the list of session with a critical eye, and consider the layout of the venue itself. Make a list of the sessions you're most interested in and make a tentative schedule. If you end up going to a popular convention like IBS or World of Modular, talk to someone who has been before. It makes a big difference.

When you've defined the various factors that will influence your decision, you can make a more informed decision about the best way to spend your money. The right conference can take you in new directions, inspire a new marketing strategy, or introduce you to career-changing influencers.

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