All Commentary
Thursday, November 15, 2018

How to Make Your Own Luck at Professional Conferences

Opportunity is everywhere, so brush up on your elevator pitch and get ready to network your way to the next level of your professional career.


Conferences can provide abundant opportunities for career growth: You can learn new things, meet new people, and, of course, have a blast. But that only scratches the surface. With the right attitude and gameplan, you can go beyond “networking” and use your time at a conference to start new professional relationships that can transform your career.

Isaac Morehouse, founder and CEO of Praxis, covers this topic in an episode of the Office Hours podcast, detailing the opportunities that conferences offer to those willing to make value propositions. The discussion was sparked at FEEcon 2018, where Morehouse fielded several questions about how to jumpstart a professional career. Putting yourself and your skills on display is a lot easier than many might think, he said.

Here are just a few ways to own your next conference experience and prepare for your professional future.

Consider Your Why

Any way you slice it, people attend conferences for a distinct reason: to connect with like-minded individuals and share ideas.

The decision to attend a conference is rarely an impulsive one, and that’s part of what makes them so special. Before you bought your tickets, booked a hotel room, or packed your bags for your trip, you likely considered the benefits of taking part in the event. Maybe you were excited to listen to a particular speaker, or maybe you were looking forward to meeting up with an out-of-state friend for a few days of learning and self-improvement. Any way you slice it, people attend conferences for a distinct reason: to connect with like-minded individuals and share ideas.

When you keep your why in mind, there is no time to feel “in the way” or “out of place,” even at a major conference. You are better able to step outside your comfort zone, meet new people, and pitch yourself to potential clients.

Building a Signal

Now that you are unapologetically present at the conference of your choice, the big question arises: How do I get people to notice me? You’re surrounded by individuals with impressive resumes. What makes you unique?

The answer is simple: your skills.

It’s no secret that the best way to signal your talents and abilities is through real-world experience. The more examples you have of your work, the more interest you’ll generate regarding your services.

It’s no secret that the best way to signal your talents and abilities is through real-world experience. The more examples you have of your work, the more interest you’ll generate regarding your services.

Morehouse puts this into perspective, saying, “There’s so much opportunity everywhere. The majority of the speakers here—that you came to see, whose ideas you’re interested in—don’t have websites… or have really crappy websites.”

In this instance, delivering a value proposition is as straightforward as walking up to a speaker you admire and saying, “Hi. I want to build your new website. It’s going to be awesome. Here’s why. What do you think?”

Not only is this an easy project for you, but it also has a lasting impact on the client. Take on several projects like this, and suddenly “you’re the guy or the gal who can do this for people,” says Morehouse.

Of course, the specific pitch will depend on your skillset. You can become known for organizing seamless events, updating brands and brand guides, designing ebook covers, or something completely different. The possibilities are endless!

But the basic principle is universal: Become a value creator and a problem solver. If you do, your reputation will precede you.

Taking a Leap

As Morehouse puts it, “[Opportunity is] right there, just waiting.” All you have to do is take a leap and go after it. And as he mentioned in the podcast episode, a friend and colleague of Isaac’s was preparing to do just that. This person noticed that Lawrence W. Reed, president of FEE, did not yet have a personal website. On his own time, this person built one using the drag-and-drop site builder Squarespace, and then he simply emailed Reed the logins. As you can imagine, Reed was quite impressed and deeply appreciative. Today he uses it as his official site.

Opportunity is everywhere, so brush up on your elevator pitch and get ready to network your way to the next level of your professional career.

This is just one example of a successful value prop made at a conference. Opportunity is everywhere, so brush up on your elevator pitch and get ready to network your way to the next level of your professional career.

Ready to make your value prop?

Want to try this approach out yourself? FEEcon 2019 in Atlanta is the ideal event for it. FEEcon brings together professionals, industry leaders, scholars, coders, philanthropists, and students for a three-day journey of discovery, connection, empowerment, and fun. Whatever you need to bring your creative vision to life—skills, mentors, or just inspiration—you’ll find the tools at FEEcon. Join us next summer for FEEcon 2019 from June 13–15 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sign up to stay in the loop on updates, including registration, scholarships, speakers, exclusive discounts, and more!