Attending an industry conference is an incredible experience, professionally and personally. It means you've earned the right to attend based on your job responsibilities and performance. You have to do a lot right to have your organization send you to a nice resort or hotel, where you can attend educational sessions, network with your peers, build relationships, learn about the latest trends and technologies, and possibly sneak in a round of golf.
As great at it is to attend a conference, speaking at a conference can take the experience to a whole new level. Whether you deliver a solo presentation, co-present with a colleague, or participate in a discussion as a panelist or moderator, you raise your profile in the industry. A speaking engagement could very well serve as a career boost for you and a business boost for your company.
This actually begins before the event when you promote your speaking engagement on LinkedIn and other networking and social media platforms. Press releases, e-mail announcements and search engines from the event hosts and sponsors drive people to the conference agenda, where they'll see your name. Every time someone views the conference agenda, you build awareness and credibility for yourself and your organization. Journalists could cover your presentation and request interviews. You might even get invited to present at another event and become a regular on the speaking circuit.
By speaking at an industry conference and sharing your insights and expertise, you position yourself as an expert and resource of information. By helping others become more knowledgeable and apply what they've learned, you contribute to the growth and betterment of the industry as a whole.
Perhaps you say, "There's no way I'm getting up on stage in front of all those people." Speaking at a conference can definitely be awkward or uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it, the better you get, and the more confident you become. You'll probably get constructive feedback that you can apply to future presentations. If you're a little uneasy about presenting, offer to be a panelist in a group discussion so others can share the spotlight and take the pressure off.
The skills you develop as a speaker make you more valuable to your organization. Better communicators are better managers. You can apply your speaking skills to business development, department meetings, staff training and everyday interactions with colleagues, supervisors and employees. It can even help you when you're asking for a raise or promotion.
One overlooked benefit of speaking at an industry conference is the value of the content you present. You'll spend many hours researching, writing, revising and fine tuning your presentation, so why not use that content beyond the actual event?
Turn that content into a white paper and/or a series of blogs, newsletter articles or podcasts. Use snippets in sales presentations and social media posts. If you shoot a video of your presentation, you can post the video on your website in its entirety and in smaller, more digestible morsels. Use your presentation content strategically and get as much mileage from your investment of time and energy as possible.
We're always looking for speakers at RVCF conferences who offer new ideas, fresh perspectives and unique insights. In fact, we've noticed an increasing appetite for presentations involving a retailer, a supplier and a service provider. They would share a collaboration success story that might involve launching a new initiative, transforming a business process, or overcoming a business challenge. This type of presentation would include all perspectives and illustrate how all sides have benefitted. This is why RVCF exists – to help all retail industry stakeholders move forward together. We'd love to see more real world examples of how this is happening.
If you're interested in speaking at an RVCF conference in any capacity, we'd love to hear from you. Please contact Kim Zablocky with an outline of your proposed topic and speaking points for consideration.
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