As a professional speaker and author I am a frequent presenter at conferences and conventions. I find that most people do gain from the lectures, appreciate the opportunity to network, and enjoy getting away from the day to day workplace. But once those 2-3 days are over all of that disappears. So here are some tips I can share to make your next conference the best and have the benefits last.
Before the conference
Do your homework; go beyond scheduling your breakout sessions and making hotel reservations. Take a look at the agenda, if you are attending with another colleague; resist the urge to sign up for all the same things. Split up and get double benefit from the event.
Once you determine your schedule, dive into the details. Take a look at each session, review the objectives, and research the presenter. Write down two or three of your own objectives so that you get the most from the session.
And the last thing you should do before you get to the conference is take a look at the attendee list if available. Plan ahead of time who you would like to connect with and network. If possible send out emails ahead of time, just a simple note that might say, “Ellen I see you are attending the ACEP conference next month, I would love to connect with you”
At the conference
Stick with your plan! Attend the sessions, make your connections and see what else the event has to offer. Sometimes there is a book store, or poster presentations, and of course the exhibits. Don’t forget the sales exhibits, yes they are there to sell products, but they also come armed with valuable information. Take your time when going through the exhibit area.
When in each session, make an effort to write down just one thing that you will do upon returning to work. Take as many notes as you would like, but we all know what happens to those notes. Make a list of just one thing from each session and you have a much better chance of making changes that will matter.
Connect with the speakers, get their contact information. You may find that you want to share information from their session; if you do it is nice to have their contact information in the event you have any questions. Or you might want to be recommend a speaker to present for your organization.
After the conference
Take that list you made of the one thing you want to implement from each session and rank it by ease and benefit to apply. Then work on the list ONE at a time. Most people never accomplish anything new after returning from a conference, so if you do even 1 or 2 you will be ahead of the game.
Follow up with the connections you made. Hopefully you came back with a pocket full of business cards. Do this quickly, maybe even while you are on the plane. Write your emails before the commotion of your real job takes over. And if you act fast your contacts have a much better chance of remembering you. A note sent 2 months later will most definitely go unnoticed.
And finally, thank your boss in a written note or email. Your organization invested in you by sending you to the conference. Let your boss know that you appreciated the opportunity and sum up the benefits. Share those one or two ideas you are planning on implementing. Let your boss know the investment was worthwhile and you might just get an opportunity to attend another great conference.
Follow these simple tips when attending a conference and I believe you will find the benefits multiply!
Bio of Liz Jazwiec, RN
Liz Jazwiec, RN is a nationally renowned speaker, strategist and author. In 2010 her book, Eat THAT Cookie! How Workplace Positivity Pays Off..For Individuals, Teams and Organizations was chosen as a winner of the American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year award in the leadership and management category. She can be contacted at Liz@Lizjazz.com