7 Creative Ways to Cover Conference Expenses

7 Creative Ways to Cover Conference Expenses

(Image: Thinkstock)

As I sat center in the third row of the very intimate auditorium at the Times Center in New York City recently, I had the overwhelming desire to weep and simultaneously pinch myself. In fact, I tweeted and commented on Facebook that it was truly a blessing to be among professionals in tech and business.

It was the third and final day of the Business Insider IGNITION 2014 Conference and a high point, aside from having the opportunity to chat—and take a selfie—with Mark Cuban of Shark Tank, along with other attendees, was hearing firsthand thoughts from tech and business luminaries such as Jeff Bezos, Barry Diller, the aforementioned Mark Cuban, as well as the founders of Tumblr and Whisper, and executives at Buzzfeed, Facebook, Target, Apple and too many others to list here.

In the past month, I’ve attended three conferences and an awards gala. Why? Because even before becoming an entrepreneur I strongly believed in investing in my education, formally through college and university, in addition to through professional and personal development opportunities like conferences and seminars.

Finances, however, can get tight, and if there are options at your disposal to attend events for free or to decrease expenses to attend, why not, right? I knew you’d agree. In fact, I did not pay for entrance to any of the four events listed above, which ranged from free (but invite-only) to $3,500 to attend.

Below are 7 ways that you may not have considered to get you into the next on your 2015 list of ‘must attend’ events for your business:

Get in there early: You may have noticed in many conferences that the price increases incrementally as the conference date draws closer. I’ll never forget that in 2006, I received an email invitation for a fundraiser for a then-Sen. Barack Obama, and the cost was $250. I dare you to find an opportunity to have an audience with now President Obama and 30 or 40 other folks without adding at least two zeroes to that number.

(At the time I did not have $250 to attend so I had to pass. I wish I’d had these tips then I may have been able to snag entrance for free or at least a discount.)

If you reach out to conference organizers early, when they are trying to generate interest and entice people with reduced prices and other incentives, they may be more open to your proposal of some of the following ideas. Conversely, if the conference date is drawing near and the sign ups have been weak that may also work to your advantage as having attendees in the room may be more important than the fees generated from a ticket sale. The takeaway here is that you should always ask because you never know.

Check out more tips on the next page …