Networking Events

3 Technologies You Want to Be Using Before Your Next Business Conference

Business conferences are prime networking opportunities for business owners, allowing them to meet other entrepreneurs and exchange contact information. These big events also give companies the opportunity to introduce their brands to consumers and other businesses, helping get the word out in a way that might otherwise not have been possible.

The networking portion of these conferences can be tricky, though, especially if you’ve been so busy building your business you’ve neglected to keep up with the latest technologies. While many things can come up in one-on-one conversations, there are some technologies that are part of many conferences these days. Here are some things you should know before booking your next business conference.

1. High-tech projectors.

If you came of age in an era where business presentations were conducted on laptops hooked up to projectors, you’ve probably noticed things have changed in the past year or two. If not, you may be in for a surprise once you walk into your first session. Projectors have gradually grown more sophisticated, especially at tech conferences and high-level corporate get-togethers.

Cloud projectors connect users directly to their own servers or online sites to present content. Mitsubishi’s cloud projectors can also connect to a smartphone or tablet nearby for presentations. iOS users should consider investing in an Apple Lightning to VGA adaptor, which will connect an iPhone or iPad to a projector for displaying content. By moving to tablet-based presenting, a conference presenter will show he or she is advanced beyond the laptop-projector combination that many professionals associate with presentations these days.

Related: The 5 Best Conferences for Entrepreneurs to Attend in 2015

2. Apps and notifications.

2015 is thought to be an important year for location-based marketing, as marketers find new ways to use the technology. For big events like conferences, the technology can be used to send reminders or notifications to all attendees within a certain distance of the meeting area. If this feature is being used, conference attendees will need to have location services enabled on their smartphones and know how to change their phone’s notification preferences.

Some conferences also use special apps to provide agendas and conference announcements that would have previously been provided on paper. If possible, download the designated app before leaving for the conference to avoid having to deal with it once you arrive. This will free you up to focus on the event itself rather than potentially troubleshooting why the app won’t load on your phone.

Related: At This Business Conference, Roasted Marshmallows Replace Cell Phones

3. Contact information tools.

There are numerous apps for managing business cards, with new ones emerging as old ones disappear on a seemingly regular basis. The bottom line is, if you’re still swapping paper business cards, you may be out of date. It’s important to be able to scan paper cards, since many professionals will still have those on hand, but there are also technologies that will allow you to collect information on the fly without paper changing hands.

One of Zoho's products lets attendees scan business cards or barcodes on name tags to easily import information. But if your conference doesn’t have barcodes on its nametags, the latter feature won’t be very useful. If your conference doesn’t offer a support tool to easily collect information from fellow attendees, Evernote Hello can be a useful addition to your mobile device. The app connects to your LinkedIn profile, Facebook accounts and address book to allow you to either scan a business card or import information manually. The app will immediately pull in information from your online networks to enhance the new contact’s profile.

Conferences are a valuable opportunity for business owners to network, learn more about their chosen industries and get the word out about their brands. By knowing as much as possible about technology that will be used at the conference, professionals can appear at the top of their game once they’re at the event and spend more time meeting new people and exchanging helpful ideas.

Related: Entrepreneur's 7th Annual Growth Conference 2015