After two years of networking behind a computer screen, it's time to rediscover the benefits of the face-to-face meetings, knowledge sharing and content opportunities you get from industry conferences.
Attending an industry conference like the Native Advertising Days is a great idea on a number of levels. More than the takeaways you get from the speaking sessions themselves, you also get invaluable networking time, opening up the door for new business, new partnerships and new perspectives.
What's more, making an appearance at events within your event is a great way to build credibility and perhaps even establish thought leadership. Let’s take a closer look at the top four reasons you should be going to industry conferences.
Reason 1: Increase your knowledge
Whether you’re just starting out in your industry or you’re a seasoned pro, there is always room to grow. Sometimes it’s just a matter of a different perspective or a better approach. Whatever the takeaway, industry events bring people that are all doing similar things together, to talk and learn from one another. The setting is ripe for the sharing of insights and new breakthroughs.
Industry conferences present a number of learning opportunities. Whether you’re learning from inspiring keynote speakers, track sessions, workshops or simply from the audience’s questions and perspectives, you’re bound to pick up new valuable knowledge from a conference within your industry. This is particularly true in newer industries where traction is still being built and industry practices are still being formalized, which is certainly the case with native advertising.
Another thing to consider is the number of disciplines that fall under a particular industry. Take, for example, the native advertising industry. A native advertising event brings together those who place native ads, such as publishers or advertisers, the brands that commission them and even the marketing technology companies that help facilitate the process.
There is a lot to be learned from other players in your industry who operate in a different discipline than you. For one, you can learn what’s of interest to those you do business with. In these instances, industry events act as a means to build shared language and understanding, making it easier for everyone to do their jobs well.
Reason 2: Networking & Brand Awareness
One of the biggest arguments in favour of attending a conference within your industry is the unparalleled opportunity to network. Whether you’re getting the chance to put in face time with potential clients, partners or competitors, there’s a lot to be said for getting out from behind your computer screen and speaking face-to-face with these people.
In our increasingly digital world, a little personal interaction goes a long way in building trust. One in-person interaction, for example, may be just what it takes to win the business of the client you’ve been emailing back and forth with forever.
Because conference organizers have increasingly come to recognize the tremendous networking value of such industry events, they’ve begun to place networking opportunities front and centre, offering more inclusive presentation styles and meet and greet opportunities between events and after the day’s sessions. Native Advertising DAYS, for example, works hard to build a community around the event, offering a networking gift that keeps on giving.
Further, by simply being at an industry event, you're ensuring that your company is out there being seen. In other words, participating in an industry event builds brand awareness. Keep in mind, though, this can be for better or worse. Pay mind to the way you represent your brand when at such industry events. While it may seem unimportant, it’s a good idea to put some thought into the way you and your employees present themselves and whether or not that aligns with your brand identity.
Reason 3: Tons of content possibilities
Being in the business of content, it’s hard to ignore the content opportunities that industry conferences provide. Here are just a few:
- Cover the event live via SoMe posts: Photo ops are great for Instagram and Facebook, making your presence at the event known, and associating your brand with the event and thought leadership in general. Twitter is a great place to quote some of the speakers you’ve heard. Make sure to use the event-specific hashtag; this is a great way to make sure you get more eyes on what you put out there from other event-goers and their network.
- Get great video footage: industry events are a great place to get evergreen video footage—from live-streaming and interviews to simply capturing high-energy moments or getting great B-roll, no question, these events are great for video footage. Just be sure you have the proper permissions to film!
- Create follow-up blog posts and articles: Another way to repurpose your conference experience into content is through blog posts after the event. There is no shortage of opportunities. You can highlight the best moments from a particular speaker or summarise the general themes and takeaways of the event.
One thing is for certain, you won’t leave an industry event without tons of content opportunities. One piece of advice, though: create a content plan before the conference begins. Take a peek at the event agenda and see which events would make for good content and plan your conference experience accordingly.
Reason 4: Get inspired and motivated
Let’s face it, being in the office week in and week out isn’t exactly good for motivation and creativity. And two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we all know that sitting at home all day can make you stir crazy.
It’s important to step out of the mould now and again. You and your employees need to get inspired and get the creative juices flowing.
There are always different experiences that conference attendees get energized by. For some, it’s inspiring sessions and keynotes. For others, it’s the palpable energy of the event.
Many conferences these days are geared toward creating these inspiration-worthy moments, by facilitating different session formats, such as workshops that allow for greater audience participation and engagement.
Another great way that conferences can help build this energy and inspiration is through recognizing great work within the industry. Such can be accomplished through special award ceremonies. At previous Native Adverting DAYS, for example, we have hosted the Native Advertising AWARDS, which acknowledge the best work in native within a number of different categories. Although the 2022 AWARDS were held separately due to the pandemic situation, we anticipate many award winners will be participating at the conference.
A final piece of advice. When you return to the office, sometimes there can be a dip in energy and it can be difficult to determine how to put all your great learnings into practice. We suggest taking the time within your organization to debrief on learnings, create a list of takeaways and make an actionable game-plan on how to get the most out of what you learned at your industry conference.
NOTE: This post was originally published on June 20, 2019 and was updated on March 9, 2022.