I’d never traveled so far to see one man speak. 1,414 miles and many hours after I left my home, I found myself in a Toronto hotel ballroom brimming with a few thousand people for one of Harv Eker’s Millionaire Mind Intensive seminars. It was 2003 and little did I know at the time how dramatically that one live event would change the course of my life. During those three days, I dove deep into confronting personal beliefs that were holding back my success, discovered new life-long friends and made a critical decision that changed literally everything for me.
Since that event, I’ve invested the time, money and effort needed to attend dozens of large and small live workshops, seminars and intensives, both as a participant and a behind-the-scenes worker, and funneled the lessons learned into creating and managing high-end retreats.
I believe live events are the #1 way to rapidly and profoundly up-level your mindset, business and life overall, especially when you leverage winning strategies to maximize your results. Personal experience has taught me that properly designed and produced events magnify the impact of the information taught by leveraging hands-on learning processes.
As a result of my dedication to continual learning, passionate pursuit of personal growth, and by participating in dozens of empowering live events, I’ve experienced a radical transformation of my life situation. And, I’ve witnessed thousands of others’ personal breakthroughs, all in the context of transformational live events.
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Before you head out to your next seminar, workshop or retreat, you’ll want to use the strategies below to help you maximize the results you get while you’re there. Based on my insights from over a decade of being on both sides of the live event fence as both an attendee and producer of live events, here are my 10 Smart Strategies for Getting the Most from Live Events.
1. Rest up ahead of time.
I can personally attest to how energizing and yet exhausting live events can be (even more so when working behind the scenes to produce them). It wasn’t and still isn’t unusual for me to stay up past midnight and awaken by 6 am at many of the events I go to. They are often structured to have very long days, often starting at 8 or 8:30 am and going until 8 pm or later. A few special deep-dive transformational experiences I’ve been to start at dawn and end around midnight! Some even have assigned “homework” for you to complete before the next morning. Even if the event’s schedule begins later and ends at more “reasonable” hours, you’ll likely find yourself hanging out with new friends, discussing lessons learned and exploring opportunities late into the evening. So, get your zzz’s in as much as you can before arriving!
2. Show up early and leave late.
This is one of the most crucial steps to getting the most from live events. You want to get there the day before the event begins and leave the day after it finishes. Many people are tempted to cut the time down to the least possible to fit it into their schedules, but that’s the wrong approach. You must first think of each live event as the investment of time, money and effort that it truly is. You may be spending thousands of dollars on the live event tuition, using precious vacation time or taking time away from your business to fly across the country to be at the event, and be footing the bill for a multi-day stay at a hotel or retreat location, so make it worth your while. You certainly don’t want to sell yourself short by arriving frazzled and leaving in a rush.
Give yourself the time to meet people before the event even starts. Many people will congregate in the hotel lobby or lounge. Scope out the scene and the day before the event starts and get down to lobby a half-hour to hour before event starts to meet people and focus on relationship building. Even if the event itself is a flop, you will often discover golden opportunities in the other fantastic people you meet there.
After the event is over, schedule in day to sit down with your notes and create a plan for integrating the new knowledge into your life and business (more on this in #10). You might also choose to meet with some of your new friends to get to know then better or discuss possible joint opportunities. I’ve created life-long friendships with many people I met at live events, some of which have resulted in opportunities I otherwise never would have had if I had skimped on the time I spent at the event.
3. Maintain a positive attitude and an open mind.
If you arrive at an event expecting for it to be of benefit to you and have a positive impact on your life, it will, even if those benefits show up a little differently than you expected. If you arrive a skeptic, wary that every presentation is a veiled attempt to get you to buy something and you cynically close your mind to new thinking, the event will likely live down to your lowered expectations. There’s a valuable lesson you can glean from just about any situation or speaker. Make it your task to simply open your mind to receiving new information. Keep that which serves you and release that which does not.
4. Head to where the action is.
One of your top priorities at live events should be to get to know more people. After all, the live event is likely filled with other motivated go-getters like you that you likely wouldn’t connect with if you simply took an online course or program. You don’t have to drink in order to take advantage of an evening hot spot – the hotel bar – to mingle with other attendees. If you happen to be at an event location without a bar, like a small retreat center, find where people are congregating or suggest a place yourself to get together each evening and start making connections.
5. Make lemonade out of lemons.
Sometimes you get to a live event and it’s a total bomb… the speakers may be terrible and uninspiring, the topic might be boring and you could end up feeling like you’re wasting your time. But, it rarely pays off to throw in the towel completely. Instead, seek out and uncover the gifts that may not be glaringly obvious but are undoubtedly still there.
I’ve been to enough live events to know that 99% of events that you think are wasting your time have a silver lining somewhere if you simply decide to make it your duty to find it. A positive attitude can even affect how you perceive the event to be and its outcome for you. With a dedication to spotting and collecting the hidden gems of wisdom, you may find the speakers seem better. Perhaps you’ll make some great contacts or friends or pick up on a single phrase that gives you an incredible new idea.
I got to exercise this empowering mindset shift recently when I attended an event where on the first day, I felt a strong urge to cut my losses and skip the rest of the day and the remaining two days. But, I stayed for the entire three day event instead of throwing in the towel on the first day and it paid off. I made some great friends and I left the event with new ideas and inspiration that are shaping my business today.
6. Study the event marketing.
Many of the events that I’ve both attended and worked at have been multi-speaker events. Having a variety of presenters increases the value for event attendees, but it also often results in a lot of sales pitches from the various presenters, which can be annoying to some who don’t know how to leverage sales pitches for their own benefit. When you find yourself listening to numerous program and product offers, take the opportunity to study them and how they’re being made. If you’re at a high quality event, many of the presenters are frequently seasoned professionals and have their offers honed to a science.
As you listen, notice what the presenters do and don’t say, how they say it, the way in which they use presentation materials (if any) and gage how the audience responds. I’ve seen extremely effective offers have a “popcorn” effect on the audience, where event attendees will pop up out of their chairs and go running toward the back of the room to make a purchase even before the offer has been finished. And, I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve seen crowds four people deep reaching and grabbing for order forms for programs and products costing thousands of dollars. Now that’s a seriously effective sales offer!
7. Focus on making one to three solid connections.
Every event has people I call “card collectors” who amass hundreds of business cards during a weekend event. They approach people with thought of “What can this person do for ME?” and go to an event with the goal of nabbing as much contact information from as many folks as possible. Card collectors turn people off with their “taker” attitudes, miss out on truly connecting with the incredible people at live events and the opportunities that may arise from those relationships down the road.
Don’t be a card collector! Go deep with a few connections instead of taking a scattershot approach to meeting as many people as possible. Have real conversations, see if you feel a kinship with certain individuals or if you share certain complementary passions. Profitable business opportunities may grow out of the friendships you begin at the event, but at the very least, you will have made your time there more enjoyable.
8. Be engaged while you’re in the room.
Have you ever been at an event that cost you thousands of dollars in tuition, travel and accommodations costs and you look around and notice people staring at their iPhones checking emails or texting? I have. Maybe you’re guilty of sneaking a peak at your phone yourself.
I understand that certain speakers may not be that interesting, but you will get out of an event what you put into it, so be engaged! Focus your attention on finding the golden nuggets often buried in even terrible presentations (like taking note of what not to do!). By allowing yourself to be distracted, you’re missing out on the very content you paid a lot of money to gain access to, not to mention that it’s simply bad manners.
Commit to being 100% focused and present while it’s time to listen and learn. Don’t waste your investment in the live event by letting yourself be distracted by outside responsibilities. Plan ahead to arrange your business or job to be able to function without you while you’re away so you can focus entirely on getting the most from the event. Set aside time early in the morning, at the lunch break and after the event concludes each evening to check in, if necessary, and keep your phone turned off.
9. Make the most of extra activities and meet-and-greet opportunities.
Ask questions, volunteer for hot seats, volunteer for the activities and hop up on stage and shake a leg during the dance breaks. Take advantage of special extras like receptions, lunches or dinners with the event host and guest presenters. The event attendees you’ll find there will be other motivated and action-oriented people like you. You never know what connections you might make and it might be those very connections that make all the difference in your business and life success down the road.
10. Create a post-event plan of action.
While you’re at an event, it can be easy to get swept up in the positive energy and feel you can accomplish just about anything while riding that wave of enthusiasm, especially if it’s a well-designed event packed with great speakers and content.
But, when you get back home, it can feel like someone took a pin to your balloon of good feelings. Getting away for a few days takes a lot of effort and planning – meetings are postponed, emails pile up and everyone may have something “urgent” they want you to take care of. You may return home to a mountain of work screaming for attention the moment you step through the door of your office or home.
It’s far too easy to get sucked back into playing catch-up and your day-to-day routine once you’re back, so you have to be proactive. Avoid the post-event momentum crash by creating an action plan to implement what you learned and follow up with connections you made before you begin your journey back home. Map out your activities and schedule it into your calendar.
I encourage you to get out to inspiring and empowering live events and use these 10 strategies to maximize your benefits during and after your time there.
I’d love to hear your tips and strategies for making the most of live events you attend.
What is your strategy for meeting new people?
Do you often take advantage of additional opportunities to engage and connect with others?
Please share your thoughts and comments below.
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