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6 Ways to Attend Awesome Conferences for Free

6 Ways to Attend Awesome Conferences for Free

    Everyday, I see an awesome conference or convention I want to attend. While some, like the various PodCamps are free or fairly inexpensive, big conferences like CTIA can cost well over $1,000 to attend.

    Paying for every conference you want to attend is a fast way to go broke, even if you manage to grab early bird rates and other discounts. But there are a few ways to arrange for free tickets — not for every conference, unfortunately, but for enough to make the effort worthwhile. I’ve found that each conference and convention is different — not every method will work at every event. But for just about every conference, there really is some way to attend for free.

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    1. Cover it for the press

    As a freelance writer, I’ve managed to get some free conference tickets because a magazine or website wanted someone in attendance to write up the event. If you’re covering a conference for a publication, you’ll want to take great notes, at least a couple of photographs and generally pay attention. You’ll be writing a pretty in-depth report for your editor when you get back. Covering a conference is definitely work. If an editor shells out big bucks for your ticket, he or she probably expects a great article for the money.

    In general, editors tend to choose writers or photographers they’ve worked with before to cover conferences. But, if there is a certain conference you really want to attend, start querying publications that share an audience with that conference. You’ll need a sample of your writing to show editors — it doesn’t have to be published, but it does need to show your skills.

    2. Look for contests

    A lot of conferences and conventions give away tickets as part of their marketing. It’s never a sure thing that you’ll get a ticket through a conference. For conference you don’t absolutely have to go to, though, trying to win tickets isn’t a bad plan.

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    Usually, I just set up a Google Alert for the name of the conference and the phrase, “free ticket.” I seem to get most of the contests and giveaways that way.

    3. Volunteer your services

    Many conferences and conventions depend on volunteers to handle a lot of the work of putting together and running the event. Especially if you’re a member of the organization putting on the conference, you can often get a free ticket just by volunteering your time. The trade-off is that you won’t have the full convention free. If there are only a few speakers you really want to hear, that isn’t necessarily a problem.

    The earlier you can get in on the set up process, the more likely you are to get a free ticket out of it. If you’re on the organizing committee of a conference, no one’s going to ask you to buy a ticket. You may also be able to trade certain services — like setting up a website or designing a brochure — for a ticket.

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    4. Ask your boss to send you

    One of the good things about having a job is that many companies set aside money for marketing as well as developing employees’ skills. Both budgets often have money that can be used to send employees to conferences — and that employee can be you.

    It’s often a matter of asking your supervisor and seeing what funds are available. If you can clearly explain why a specific conference will make it easier to do your job, you’ll be better prepared to convince your boss why he or she should pay your way.

    5. Present at the conference

    In my opinion, this is the hardest way to get a free ticket. In order to present at a conference (and hopefully get free admission as at least part of your payment), you either have to be invited or submit some sort of proposal to the conference organizer. Either way, you’ll need credentials that will convince a committee that you’re worth having around. You have to be an expert or have done something pretty cool in the field. Volunteering is generally less work.

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    But if you have good credentials in your field — and a great idea for a presentation — you can often attend the rest of the conference for free. It may even be one of the better ways to attend a conference. Other attendees may seek you out just to talk more about your great ideas and experiences.

    6. Ask for a scholarship

    Many conferences maintain a small scholarship fund for people who can’t afford to attend. Most of those funds seem to go to students, and I’ve seen a few conventions ask for some sort of proof of financial need. If you need to attend a particular conference but you just aren’t able to pay for a ticket, ask the organizers if they’re offering any sort of scholarship.

    Just remember…

    Even if you can arrange for free tickets to a conference or convention, you may still need to consider travel arrangements as well as a place to stay. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does add a little legwork to your conference plans. I’m pretty fond of asking to stay on friends’ couches and carpooling to keep costs down, but I’ve been known to pay for the occasional airplane ticket if I managed to get free conference tickets.

    Hopefully, I’ll see you around the convention circuit.

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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