by Marcie Hill, M.S.
Conferences are expensive. Registration fees can range from $99 to well above $2,000. That’s just to get into the event.
Depending on the location of the event, you may have to pay for transportation, lodging, meals and other conference activities. Essentially, a conference with starting costs of $99 could cost an extra $200 for local events and over $500 for away events.
This could be cost-prohibitive for professionals who need continuing education and in-person networking opportunities to stay abreast of new developments in their industries, professions and businesses.
What’s a professional to do?
Chuck those exorbitant conference registration costs and get into conferences for free. Read on to find out how.
Get into Conferences for Free
If you have more time than cash, volunteering is the best way to save on entry costs. There are opportunities to work before and during the event.
Pre-conference tasks include promoting the event and activities on social networks, assembling swag bags, preparing name badges and anything else needed to provide an amazing experience for attendees.
During the conference, you work one- to four-hour shifts performing a variety a roles. These roles include, but are not limited to: greeting attendees, distributing handouts during sessions, introducing speakers, registering guests, vendors and speakers, or serving as concierge.
Complimentary entry is not the only perk to volunteering. You may get complimentary meals, access to most sessions and attendee-only activities, and free parking.
To find volunteer opportunities, go to the conference website and look for a request for volunteers or contact the volunteer coordinator.
2. Request a media pass
Hopefully, you have a website featuring your portfolio of published articles. Or, maybe you have a blog that shows your writing skills and style; topics you cover; and consistency in publishing. These bodies of published works are your keys to free conference entry via media passes.
Each conference has different requirements for these passes. Sometimes you just have to link to your website, blog or other sites where you’ve published articles. Other conferences require you to blog about a certain topic or to provide proof that you work with specific publications. Some organizers want to see that you’ve been published recently or write consistently.
To request media passes, you can search “media pass” on the site if it isn’t one of the topics in the navigation bar. You can also contact the conference’s media department to request one.
Re sure to write the promised article about the conference and send a link to the media contact via email.
3. Be a Presenter
Being a presenter requires more work than the previous two options but it’s worth it.
To find opportunities, conduct an internet search on “Call for presenters” or “Call for speakers” and include the name of the conference or the city. For writing conferences, you would type “Call for presenters at writing conferences in Philadelphia” or “Call for speakers at 2019 conferences”. Be specific in your search.
After finding the opportunities, you have to submit a proposal by a deadline date. You will be notified if your proposal is approved. If it isn’t, ask for feedback so you can 1) improve future proposals and 2) increase the likelihood of your proposals being accepted.
If there is a conference you really want to attend, you can get in for free. Save on conference registrations by volunteering, requesting media passes and being a presenter. In addition to saving money, you will learn new things, meet new people and stay on top of trends in your career, industry or business.
What About You?
Have you ever gotten into conferences for free? How did you do it? Let us know in the comment box below.
Marcie Hill, M.S., is a freelance writer, blogger, trainer and author who left her job and 12-year career in human resources to pursue her dream of writing.
She has written over 3,000 blog posts and nearly 1,000 articles in international, national, and local print and online publications. Her interview with Dr. Maya Angelou is her greatest accomplishment. She has owns three sites; has authored and self-published eight books; and has presented at national and local writing, blogging and social media conferences.