Going to construction conferences used to be an opportunity to get away from your normal workflow and network, while learning about the latest practices and trying out new tools. Now that large gatherings present a much higher risk, many event organizers have shifted to virtual conferences. Here’s what to expect, and how to decide if they’re worth the investment.
Create a List of Goals
When you run your own business, everything that falls under the heading of professional development has to make the biggest bang for your buck. This means that if you’re going to invest time and money into a conference, you want to make sure that the conference is the best one to meet your needs. With a variety of virtual conferences available, you’re no longer obligated to spend money on travel or compare hotel prices in expensive cities. But you still want to get a good return on your investment. Keep these factors in mind:
- Discounts on products
If you know what you’re looking to achieve from a conference, it will be easier to figure out which ones are the best for you.
Look at the Lineup
In order to see if a conference could be a good fit for you, you’re going to need to look at the focus of the conference as well as the opportunities included. COVID-19 has certainly thrown a wrench into many conference organizers’ plans. But since a lot of organizations have shifted to virtual this year, you shouldn’t lose out too much due to cancellations or rebooking. There are conferences that emphasize a variety of specific aspects in construction, including:
- Sustainable building
Once you’ve narrow down the list, take a look at their lineup of talks or demonstrations. You need several options that are interesting or relevant to your field to make the whole conference a sensible choice.
Consider Opportunities to Try Out New Tools
Virtual conferences can be a tricky thing to navigate in an industry like construction, simply because you don’t get that hands-on experience. Watching a demonstration isn’t quite the same as getting a chance to try it out yourself. However, there have been lots of recent innovations in technology built for use on the construction site. You may be able to test out some of these tools within the context of a virtual conference. If you’re not sure which software to choose or how to decide, this could be a good way to get more information.
Evaluate Networking Options
Building a network of people in your area that you can collaborate with related to your field is an important part of attending a conference. If you’re not getting the chance to meet with people in person, there should be other opportunities to network. Not everyone is adept at having conversations with people they don’t know in an online format, and conference organizers should be aware of this. Be ready to look for opportunities to talk shop with other conference attendees, as well as presenters and sponsors.
When you’re first starting out with your contracting business, the cost of a conference may affect your ability to attend one or not. In this case, comparing costs and benefits can help you make a final decision. Many conferences that were scheduled for the spring and early summer were pushed back to the fall, in the hopes that they could hold those conferences in person. But many others have chosen to stick to a virtual format. This may result in a much lower cost for registration, since the conference organizers aren’t having to pay to rent conference space or hire additional services. Cheaper isn’t necessarily better, but if you can find one that checks all the boxes and doesn’t cost a fortune, you’ll have made a more practical investment.
Virtual conferences are just one more way you can learn how to grow your contracting business. To get started on a rewarding career path in construction, contact CSLS today!