There are questions that run through every manager’s mind when employees ask to attend a conference: What’s the true value of networking? Learning and applying new skills that benefit the company? What if my employees are there looking for new jobs?
As a meeting planner, your defensible argument is that you can’t put a price on face-to-face interactions. Long-term benefits in skills development are invaluable. And when employees can step away from their daily routines, it re-energizes them, boosts productivity and loyalty, and leads to stronger performing teams as they share new skills with colleagues.
1. Gather the data
Collect and analyze relevant data from your most recent events and social media engagement. Start with attendee demographics, including how many people, on average, attend your events; the titles and levels of attendees; and what percentage are returning attendees. You’ll also want to look at how quickly seats are filled and year-over-year growth of your conferences.
Then take a look at your social media results. Use tools like Facebook Insights, Hootsuite and Klout to measure the impact your events have on attendees and the industry. Specifically, analyze the quality and quantity of discussions that surround your events. You want to capture and promote data that includes how many people engaged in your event, positive comments, shares, feedback and the influence of those talking about your event. As you examine your social media data, remember to look through your event hashtag and Facebook event page for sound bites and quotes from attendees.
Also, consider conducting a short survey of past attendees for more current data and anecdotal insight. You want to explore the number of new connections they’ve made, how many business opportunities they’ve uncovered because of those connections, and how they’ve applied what they’ve learned to their jobs. Combine the new survey data with the additional insights you’ve collected, and you’ll have a comprehensive and convincing story to tell.
2. Present visually compelling evidence
Do this using email newsletters or social media that feature infographics, slide shows, videos of keynote speakers or interviews with attendees.
3. Use third-party insights
External, expert opinions are among the most convincing ways to turn a nay into a yea. Obvious tactics include feedback from previous attendees, but you can boost registrations by using public reviews about your keynote (especially if the speaker is a recognized author), credentials earned by your presenters and awards earned by your organization. Additionally, you may want to feature the latest findings on employee satisfaction and turnover as it relates to ongoing training and development, and career advancement.
Do you find these suggestions helpful? Can you add to the conversation? Please comment below.