As the summer is winding down and conference season is ramping up, it’s important to understand how to get the most out of the conferences you fit into your busy schedule. Walking into the exhibitor hall can often be overwhelming, particularly for those advisors who “don’t know what they don’t know.” With that in mind, here are four tips to help you make the most of your time.
1. Do your research.
If you’re like many advisors, you might find yourself with a little extra time on your hands over the summer. This is a great opportunity for some introspection and an objective view of your technology. Where is your staff spending the most time? Is there anything that is particularly labor intensive, such as billing or reporting? Spend a little time getting to know which technology vendors are able to provide a solution to the problem and read up a little on each.
Most conferences provide a list of sponsors and exhibitors well in advance of the actual show, so once you’ve figured out who you might like to evaluate, you can start to put together a list of booths to visit. You’ll be able to spend more quality time with the vendors of choice, and the up-front time you put in will avoid the “tell me what you do” introduction that is common at a conference. That time is better spent on sharing details about your business and the challenges you’re seeing.
Pro tip: If you have a quick chat with a vendor and really like what you hear, consider skipping out on a breakout session to visit with them in more depth. The conference hall is often empty during panels, so you’ll have space to breathe and have a more meaningful conversation.
2. Know your must-haves.
At this point, you’ve probably identified an area of your business with room for improvement. If it’s related to a particular technology, you’ll also want to consider that technology’s strengths and areas you and your team rely on heavily. In an increasingly saturated fintech space, it’s easy to have the “shiny and new” catch your eye, only to discover that your “must haves” aren’t covered. Compiling the list beforehand will help you ensure that the discussion stays focused on your business.
Now that you’ve covered the basics of your business, ask fintech providers what their product roadmaps look like. It’s more than fair to ask what has been added to their technology over the last year as well as what new features are to be expected in the near term. If they can’t point to much, consider it a red flag that they may not be keeping pace with the competition.
Be open and honest about any perceived hurdles and ask providers if/how they can work with you within your comfort level.