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Make the Most of Conferences

This article will help you retain and apply the wealth of information you gain at the meetings and events you attend.

By Michael Roby

This is the season when most people in the industry are busy attending sales meetings, conferences and training events. In fact, NAIFA is hosting its annual convention and career conference this month in Orlando, Fla. This meeting, together with other educational events, offers a wide variety of opportunities and information that help you grow and improve all facets of your practice.

According to one study, people forget 90 percent of the information they hear after only two days.

But according to one study, people forget 90 percent of the information they hear after only two days. So how do you retain and apply the wealth of information you gain at these meetings? Consider these six strategies.

  • Prepare in advance. Review each segment of your practice: sales, marketing, training, administration and recruiting (if applicable). What areas of your practice need the most attention?

    Review the program agenda and plan your attendance (and that of your staff) at the sessions that provide the most benefit to your business. Read preconference materials to ensure that you attend the meeting sessions and workshops that are most beneficial to you. Review speakers’ qualifications and expertise and read articles and books they may have authored.

  • After creating a list of outcomes you hope to achieve from the meeting, list three people you want to meet at the event. Sales leaders and area experts can provide you with valuable information and contacts to help grow your practice. Contact these people well in advance of the conference and schedule appointments with each. Early mornings work well, as afternoons and evenings present distractions. Tell these experts the exact purpose of your meeting and prepare questions to ask them. Once you’re back at the office, write a personal note of appreciation to them.

  • Create a “meetings journal” for your notes. Attendees usually take notes on a pad or a handout, and put these in a file folder, never to see them again. Instead, purchase a standard corporate journal with lined, numbered pages.

    Write a title, topic and date on each page you use. Build a table of contents at the back of the journal as you go and take notes in chronological order. When you hear a solid idea or a sales line, put it in your notes and on the appropriate additional page. When the meeting is over, go through the pages and circle the best ideas to implement in your business plan. Follow up the second-tier ideas later in the year. You can also keep notes from books, CDs and other educational materials in this journal.

  • Throughout the conference, build an “ideas-to-implement” list that will provide the greatest opportunities for practice development and improved client service.

  • Meet with your staff after the conference to review the ideas you want to implement, and develop timetables and processes to achieve your goals. Prioritize these projects and assign responsibility for tasks. Meet with your team as needed to guarantee a successful return on invested time and resources.

  • Don’t play too hard. Show up on time at the event and be able to think clearly.

Companies spend huge amounts of money and other resources on sales conferences and conventions. You make the biggest investment of all—your time—by attending and participating. Be sure to use the ideas outlined in this article to get the most out of your investment.

Michael Roby is a sales and marketing strategist, author, coach and speaker. Roby is the author of The Ultimate Small Cap Business: Building a Financial Advisory Practice. For more information, visit


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