Discounted conference passes are great but when your yearly budget for conference passes is nil or near nil, discounts can only take you so far. It’s a simple fact: conference passes cost money – and for good reason. That said, if your goal is to learn as much as possible in 2018 then getting to your dream conferences may mean employing some creative thinking.

It’s totally possible to score free conference passes, but you’ll have to do more than just ask nicely. Here are seven ways you can attend more conferences in 2018 without spending a dime:

Sign up to volunteer. Think of this as work to learn. You give up a certain amount of your valuable time to help set up, organize, and break down before, during, and after the conference in return for free access to the conference content that matters most to you. This is a great option for students and those new to the job market, as well as those who are only interested in seeing one or two speakers at a conference. If you fall into the latter category, make sure conference organizers know you’d like your volunteer hours not to overlap with those sessions.

Win a free ticket. Some conferences hold pre-conference giveaways on social media where the prize is a pass. There are no guarantees that you’ll actually win, but if throwing your hat in the ring takes a minute or two why not enter?

Attend as a speaker. This method of scoring free conference tickets obviously is dependent on your possessing a level of expertise or specialized knowledge that is valuable to other conference goers. Landing a speaker spot usually means submitting a bio and talk abstract when conference organizers put out a call for speakers, months before a conference. Your chances depend on your ability to sell yourself – do it well, and you might be reimbursed for your travel expenses or even paid.

Make friends with the organizers. Your chances of getting free conference passes with this method are, frankly, slim, but in the age of social conversations it’s worth a shot. Be real – don’t just tweet for tickets. Make actual connections and your chance of getting on VIP lists will go up.

Offer up swag. Giving away product or making a contribution to a conferences grand prize can help you get your passes gratis and frequently costs less than buying full price passes out of pocket. Obviously, this is dependent on what the organizers are looking for and what you have to give. You may actually end up way ahead by partnering up with conference organizers in this way because your company might get mentioned on social or in marketing materials.

Look into scholarships. Some conferences have scholarship programs specifically for people who otherwise couldn’t afford the passes. This is a good option for students (some scholarships are just for students anyway) and anyone who is willing to show evidence of financial need (as sometimes this is required).

Become an event affiliate. Some conferences allow people to sign up as affiliates that get paid whenever someone purchases tickets via a special unique url. Whether you make enough money to cover the cost of your own conference pass will largely depend on the size of your network, whether your network is industry-specific, and how good of a evangelist you are.

Remember, Conference Guru is your source for discount conference tickets and event passes. Don’t see your dream 2018 conference on our deals calendar? Request that we add it here!

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