Are you looking for a women’s business conference you can attend to network, make connections and learn from expert speakers? There’s no shortage of options. The New York Times recently reported that conferences for women in business are surging at unprecedented levels—to the point where a person could literally attend a different event every week.
One reason conferences for business and professional women are a growth industry is a surge in the number of publishing companies launching the events to help bolster sagging profits from print and online publications. The National Journal, The Atlantic, More magazine and Cosmopolitan magazine are among the magazines that have added women’s conferences in recent years, while conferences put on by prominent female media moguls Arianna Huffington (Thrive) and Tina Brown (Women in the World) are drawing crowds as well.
With so many women’s conferences out there, how do you choose the event that will give you the greatest return on investment and is worth your precious time?
- Consider the host. Conferences put on by business organizations or publications are more likely to focus on topics of interest to women entrepreneurs than conferences put on by “lifestyle” publications.
- Know the agenda. Of course, even some conferences that sound like they’d be perfect for high-powered execs based on their name or host organization end up including content geared toward beauty, fashion or other “fluffy” issues you’d never see at a men’s business conference. Know as much as you can about topics are covered at the event.
- Ask about sponsors. Sponsors often drive the content of an event so if it’s sponsored by, say, a cosmetics company, you need to pay extra attention to the content.
- Find out about attendance. It’s notoriously hard to get firm estimates of attendance from conference organizers, but social media has made it a bit easier. Ask other women you admire if they’re planning on attending the event. If you want to play it safer, focus on events that are in at least their second year and find people who went last year so you can ask them if it was worthwhile.
In addition to numbers, also try to estimate what types of people will be attending. You can often guess this from the event’s marketing outreach—is it marketed to businesswomen, women business owners or just women in general? If you want to hobnob only with other entrepreneurs, look for that type of event.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.