17 Helpful Tips for Getting the Most Out of NFDA 2019

Our favorite time of the year has arrived… NFDA!

NFDA is almost always a very exciting and inspiring time personally and professionally. With dozens of workshops, new friends, new professional connections, and not to mention tons of free swag, how can you go wrong?! 

The funeralOne team has been attending NFDA for over a decade now, and we want to help you make the most of it. If you’re planning on attending, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make your trip well worth the effort.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an exhibitor, speaker or attendee – use these tips and you’ll be guaranteed to rock it out at NFDA this year:

Before the NFDA convention begins…

#1: Understand what you want to get out of NFDA

To make the most out of NFDA, you should understand what you want to get out of it. What do you want to learn more about? Do you want to educate yourself on emerging technologies? Are you thinking about getting a new website? Once you understand this, it will be easier for you to focus your time.

#2: Make a plan for your NFDA experience

Once you know what you want to get out of NFDA, take the time to devise a master plan to make your goals, intentions and dreams happen! But it’s also about making sure you’re networking at the right events, or setting up plans for dinner with the vendors whose products you know are on the brink of purchasing. A little planning goes a long way!

Pro tip: Attending keynote sessions is a sure-fire way to meet industry leaders because they attract everyone. Most smaller breakout sessions will not coincide with them.

#3 Decide which sessions are most valuable for you ahead of time

When it comes to deciding on which sessions to attend, consider why you feel attracted to a particular session. Is it to upgrade your skill set? Meet the speaker? Network with potential clients? You might find yourself at sessions that aren’t 100% related to your niche, but are incredibly helpful for growing your professional connections. Think big!

#4: Prepare for the sessions and exhibits you’re attending

When you go to any conference, especially NFDA, the largest one in our profession, it’s important that you squeeze every last drop of value that you can out of it. So, when you attend a workshop, make sure you do some prior research, or ponder the questions you have to ask the presenter.

And if you visit a booth that interests you, grab all the literature they have to offer. That way, if you want to look back on anything, you’ll have everything you need. Besides, what’s all that knowledge worth if you’re not going to use it?

#5: Schedule meetings with key connections ahead of time

Those you’ll attend sessions with at NFDA are as important as the sessions you attend! NFDA may be the networking event of the year, so don’t count on just “running into people” there. Be strategic so you can make the most of this short time. 

Are there key people you’re looking to meet or talk with at NFDA? Use resources like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to find them online, and set up a time to connect with them at the show. You can use a scheduling app like Calendly or Acuity (both are free) to maximize your time and make sure you don’t miss a key connection.

Pro tip: Meeting with a potential partner or client in the middle of the craziness at the NFDA expo might not be the best idea. So, make sure you schedule your meetings in a quiet place that has an appropriate amount of privacy.

What to do during the NFDA convention…

#6: Think outside-the-box

When you go to any conference or trade show, it’s important to take advantage of the plethora of resources at your fingertips. Don’t just go to the workshops you’d normally go to, think outside-the-box! Go to a workshop that covers something you’re not familiar with. Chances are you’ll probably learn some pretty valuable lessons to take back to your business!

#7: Divide… and conquer!

If you’re attending NFDA 2019 with your coworkers, team up and see as much as possible. If everyone goes to the same everything, you might as well have sent just one of you to the conference in the first place. Splitting up (and following the tips above) will help you integrate the maximum amount of knowledge and insights into your business. Don’t forget to come back together and regroup for lunch or dinner at some points, too!

#7: Meet businesses similar to yours

The funeral profession is pretty intense when it comes to competition, but does it have to be? NFDA is unparalleled in it’s opportunity to pick the brains of your competition and your market. Don’t waste it. That means meeting people at NFDA who have a similar position in the market as yours, and figuring out what they’re doing to succeed. 

If they aren’t your biggest competitor (or even if they are!), have a conversation with them about their challenges and triumphs, and learn as much as you can from them. Even if it’s taking a walk by your top competitor’s booth – see what they’re doing to attract customers and rock out at NFDA, and take notes. 

#8: Be there for announcements

There’s always going to be a massive announcement at NFDA, and probably from many businesses. Make sure you’re there to hear them! You never know how the latest innovations can potentially add value to your business. If you’re an early adopter, you’ll position your funeral business as a thought leader in this profession.

#9: Take notes

Taking notes is THE most important element of staying organized and putting use to all of the connections and wisdom you’re accruing. Be very specific with your notes. Use highlighters. Make your notes so fool-proof, you’d be able to give them to a complete stranger and they’d be able to get everything you did out of NFDA. Seriously!

#10: Make use of social media

NFDA will likely use hashtags on Instagram and Twitter that are dedicated to the conversations happening all around the convention. Be sure to monitor the conversations happening with this hashtag, tag your photos & tweets correctly, and re-post others content to strike up a connection. These hashtags are great for assisting you in reaching out to someone you’d like to meet, but haven’t quite crossed paths with enough yet.

#11: Ask for business cards… everytime

It happens at almost every conference, workshop, book signing or event I go to… I meet someone and think “I wish I remembered to get their card!”. To avoid experiencing the same pain I have, make sure you ask everyone you meet for their business card. It sounds simple, but it’s overlooked far too many times. You never know when that contact will come in handy on your journey to success, especially if they could be a potential partner!

Pro tip: Write out a key word or brief sentence on each of the business cards you receive to remember how and why you connected in the first place.

#12: Connect with your customers.

Exchanging emails with customers is one thing. Meeting them face-to-face is another, ESPECIALLY with unhappy customers. Embrace and reinforce your sweet connection with your happy customers, and take a moment to address the core issues you have with those who could benefit from a listening ear. You don’t have to go deep into the miniscule issues, but simply letting your customers know you care about them and want to make things right (or keep things right) puts you at the top of customer experience in the funeral industry.

#13: Enjoy Chicago, have fun!

Yes, NFDA is a huge event in the funeral profession. But… don’t forget to have fun! Chicago is way too happening of a city to not enjoy. So even if it’s after or before NFDA, don’t forget to do something you enjoy that’s not career related.

#14: Get plenty of rest and recharge

Every great CEO knows this secret… you know, the one about resting and recharging. You cannot be a hero and just slay the whole NFDA convention with no sleep or rest. You must create a solid space for yourself to be ALONE, and resting your mind, with no phone, everyday. This is a non-negotiable. Without this, you will either be sick as a dog or completely burned out afterwards! Take the time you need when you need it, this is more important than any other tip so far!

After the NFDA convention…

#15: Follow up, follow up, follow up 

Did we mention that it’s important to follow up? Doing this with potential connections is best done in the immediate days following NFDA. Send follow-up emails, a thank you card, or even a personal note via an appropriate social channel. 

Pro tip: If you feel overwhelmed by the follow ups, start with the most important ones, and work your way down the list! That way the highest value connections will be tended to first.

#16: Share your new wisdom

All of the awesome insights you gained at NFDA need to be shared! Write about them in blogs and tag the speaker (this is something we’ve done for years), post the highlighted insights you got on social media, or even teach your own workshop based on what you learned. The sky’s the limit! Don’t forget to give credit where it’s due, though.

#17: Most importantly… join the movement this year at NFDA

This year, funeralOne is on a mission to create better funerals at NFDA. It’s our personal passion and mission, and something we’ve been working very hard to make happen for over a decade. That’s why we’re giving away some of the most powerful tools in funeral service at NFDA this year! 

Plus, we’ll be serving up some delicious treats (you’ll have to wait to find out what they are) at the funeralOne Booth #1958. Trust me, you’ll regret not seeing what all the buzz is about!

What are YOU most excited about for NFDA 2019!? Share it with us in the comments below!