Executive Vice President and CFO
My key goal for AFP Conference has always been to leverage everything the event has to offer. For my team, that means mastering the art of navigating the Exhibit Hall floor.
Before conference even begins, our team sets aside time to align our objectives. This involves mapping out our professional development goals through the various sessions and tracks, meeting with our banking partners, and developing a road map of the vendors we would like to visit on the Exhibit Hall floor.
Vendor engagement is carefully discussed before conference to identify solutions for any current needs and to learn about new products and services. We spend time reviewing the list of exhibitors and determining which exhibitors we want to meet, but also carving out enough time to walk the floor and potentially meet new vendors that may not be on our original list.
Exploring the Exhibit Hall:
Throughout my many years of attending conference, I have learned that there are so many solutions for complex problems right on the Exhibit Hall floor. Our banking partners are there to share their best practices and introduce new ideas every year, which makes it a great way to network and stay plugged in to the latest treasury and finance developments.
I always experience walking away with ideas we had not even thought of before.
While we all attend conference with a set of objectives in mind, I always experience walking away with ideas we had not even thought of before. There are often occasions when we do not immediately recognize a vendor by their company name or tag line, but after spending 5 minutes speaking with their booth rep we discover a new idea or solution to one of our existing problems.
We often end up working with these vendors after the initial meetings. A few years ago, we were looking to learn more about multi-bank reporting and while visiting several vendors we came across a solution to not only consolidate reporting, but to drive consistency in bank pricing and analysis. Only through conference could that have been made possible. That’s why I always encourage my team to try to find at least one new company or solution to bring back and discuss with the broader group.
Bringing Everything Together:
We have a fairly formal process of debriefing after conference based on the objectives we set forth pre-conference. Each team member assesses the degree to which they met their original objectives, but also evaluates what they may have learned on the conference floor that was “new”. We also discuss next steps for any vendors we want to follow up with. This ensures the collective knowledge from the conference is shared by all members of the team.
My advice to you would be to leverage all the Exhibit Hall has to offer, from networking to finding new solutions to problems you may not even know exist. Conference should be viewed as an investment - an investment that your company is making in you and investment that you are making in yourself. Take the time to plan that investment. The rewards and the returns are there.