IMPACT: A Veteran Offers Tips for Conference Success
Nearly 4,000 people are descending on the Moscone Center in San Francisco for the largest Schwab-sponsored event of the year, the 20th annual IMPACT conference targeted to registered investment advisors (RIAs).
Starting with a pre-conference session this afternoon, attendees will hear the perspectives of financial leaders, select from 82 educational sessions, congratulate the winners of the sixth annual IMPACT Awards, and experience an Expo with more than 300 exhibitors.
In a word, it’s big.
For the first time, I’ll be attending IMPACT as one of our Schwab Talk bloggers. (Stay tuned for more blog reports, photos and tweets on the @Schwab4RIAs channel.) But before I start my seven-block hike from the office to the event, I thought I’d ask Peg Eddy, CFP®, and President of Creative Capital Management, Inc., to give me some tips for getting the most out of IMPACT.
Last Friday, I gave Peg a call at her office in San Diego, and from the very first question, I knew I had the right person. When I asked Peg how many IMPACT conferences she had attended, she replied: “I’ve lost count. I remember the cities, but I can’t count the years.”
I quickly learned this IMPACT veteran takes a very strategic approach. Here are just a few of Peg’s conference-going tips.
1. Go for the content. “Before deciding to attend the conference, make sure that the content and speakers are appropriate for you, your firm and your career. During the conference, you’ll benefit from going to variety of sessions and taking in as much information as you can, based on what fits your needs.”
2. Make time for networking. “You learn a lot from other attendees – before the sessions, after the sessions, during the breaks. Younger attendees shouldn’t overlook the advantage of picking the brains of gray-haired people. And those of us who’ve been around since dirt was invented can benefit from talking to members of the next generation.”
3. Stay out of the fishbowl. “At my firm, we chart where we’re going on that vendor floor instead of wandering around aimlessly. If we have a concern with existing vendors, we take the opportunity to talk face-to-face. If we’re looking for new vendors, we seek out the ones that best meet our needs. The Expo experience can be intimidating, but it’s up to you to avoid the ‘Hi, how are you? Put your card in the fishbowl’ type of treatment.”
4. Pace yourself. “Eating too much and drinking too much is not going to help you get the most out of any conference. Take care of yourself. There may be times you need to leave the convention center and walk around the block. And when you get back to your office, do not schedule an appointment for 7:30 on Monday morning. If all your information stays on the back of a business card or a cocktail napkin, it’s not going to do you much good.”
As a first-timer, I think I have a plan now. I need to take in as many sessions as I can, talk to the attendees, chart my own course through the vendor Expo, and remember to take care of myself. Oh yeah, Peg also advises to have fun.
“I know we’re all going to be exhausted by Thursday night,” Peg said. “But it’s up to us to use our time wisely. It’s an asset we can never recover.”
What are YOUR best strategies for making the most out of any professional conference? Use our comment box below to add your feedback.
Experiences reflected are not a guarantee of future performance or success and may not be representative of your experience.
Third-party firms and speakers are not affiliated with or employed by Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.
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