Industry conferences are a great career resource but who can afford them? In the current economy, fewer employers are footing the bill for expensive conferences in out-of-town venues. Moreover, cost-conscious employees are often reluctant or unable to pay their own way.
Here are 5 ways to get the most out of industry conferences without parting with your hard-earned cash:
- Obtain Transcripts - You can often secure transcripts or videos of the conference. At the last conference I attended, they distributed CDs that contained all of the conference materials and handouts.
- Use Social Media - You can often follow a conference on Twitter by typing in the hash tag and the name of the conference (for example, #ILTA) or view portions of the conference on YouTube. It's not the same as attending in person but it can be help you keep a pulse on conference activities.
- Volunteer - Volunteering to work at the event in any capacity can net you a free pass to educational sessions and other conference activities. For example, you can assist with registration, distribute materials, introduce speakers or staff an information booth. Volunteering brings the added bonus of allowing you to meet leaders in your profession and network with attendees.
- Speak - If you are a featured speaker at the conference, many conferences will, at the very least, pay your conference registration fees.
- Obtain a Press Pass - If you are covering the conference for a media outlet such as an association newsletter or blog, you might be able to secure a press pass. A press pass may not give you access to every educational session or networking event at the conference but it can allow you to attend free of charge.