RIAs: Attending a conference? This Top Financial PR Firm has tips to make it worth your while

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For busy advisors and executives of RIA firms, an industry conference may look like just another commitment that will keep them away from the office, guaranteeing a pile of work waiting for them upon return.

However, these gatherings can spark interesting business ideas or media opportunities that, if taken advantage of, can improve your practice and bolster visibility and credibility among industry peers, current clients and prospects. Below, we outline some of the biggest mistakes that RIA professionals make when it comes to attending industry conferences and events.

Dismissing smaller, more intimate conferences. It’s understandable to be drawn to bigger events, but don’t forget about the smaller, lesser-known conferences, as they can bring a lot to the table. During a small conference that I attended recently, the 20-person audience was intrigued by one life insurance company’s use of branded entertainment. Their out-of-the-box strategy was well received by the audience, and this intimate setting allowed for an in-depth Q&A session, which might not have been possible amid the strict timelines of bigger conferences. Don’t overlook small conferences, especially because you may pick up great ideas and spark other business plans by hearing what your industry peers are busy taking part in.

Only networking with financial pros. One of the biggest missed opportunities is only gravitating toward the usual suspects – industry peers, CEOs and investment gurus. While they certainly are worth of an introductory chat, many advisors fail to network with media professionals that often attend these events as well. Business reporters attend conferences as a way to cull new article ideas and stay in tune with the biggest trends. While there, most also love to make time for a face-to-face chat with sources that can provide insight on these “front line” issues. Before attending any event, stay updated with social media and/or try to obtain the conference’s list of media attendees. Chances are you’ll be able to find reporters who plan to attend even before you arrive at the conference. By knowing what outlets might be represented, and by connecting with them at the conference, you can establish a solid relationship that can result in media opportunities for years to come.

Turning off your cell phone during the event. Playing with your phone isn’t necessarily a distraction, it can actually allow for further engagement. In today’s interactive world, it is important to take advantage of the ongoing social media conversation. Typically, conferences host a  Twitter hashtag feed (for example  #FinCon14), so RIA professionals should not be afraid to jump into the Twitter conversation via their phones or iPads and contribute their insight and feedback to speaker’s presentations, or retweeting intriguing comments. By joining the social conversation at these events, it can establish you as a leading voice at the event, and further networking efforts. Not to mention the fact that, by following the comments made on the hashtag-driven stream, you can keep up on what is being shared in other sessions. Even if you’re not an avid social media user, you can quietly track the conversations happening inside the conference to identify key influencers and others – not to mention, “I saw your tweet about {subject}” is a great ice breaker.

By avoiding these conference mistakes and recognizing new opportunities, RIA professionals can make attending these annual events worth their while.