Monday, October 08, 2012

Take Ownership Of The "Conference Attendee Experience"

This week kicks off countless conferences around the United States.  October is high season for conventions, trade shows, conferences, seminars, etc.....

If you are planning to attend an event be sure that you maximize your "Conference Attendee Experience" and be engaged in the learning, networking, and the fun.  The results that you achieve and the ROI you attain are based on your own actions.  The value in attending an event is not an accident, and those who will get the most from participating in meetings are the ones who take charge.

Meetings in 2012 are not the same as they were a decade ago.  People have more choices now on where to direct there attention.  The agenda alone is not enough. Speakers cannot count on people sitting through a boring talk.   Connections to the outside world via email, text, Facebook, Twitter and other apps can undermine effectiveness of a any event.  It is more important than ever that the organizers create a conference culture that encourages human-to-human interaction.

The time and financial investment in attending a multi-day gathering can be thousands of dollars.  Regardless of this is your personal money or if your employer is funding the costs, you cannot afford to be wasteful. Do not leave the success of being there to chance.  Choose to be present at the conference and contribute to the "mini-society" that is created when people come together.

Five Tips For A Better Conference:

1.  Have a plan.  Do not just wander around the conference hoping to accidently find the best learning and best networking.

2.  Put your phone away during networking breaks, happy hours and meals.  Many people look at the breaks as the time to check in with the office, but these are the only times that you can really engage with others.

3.  If a speaker is boring... walk out.  Often speakers tell the audience to put their phones away.  But if a presentation does not capture your attention you should not be expected to sit there quietly.  SXSW Interactive conference has a policy of "voting with your feet".  It is not uncommon for people to walk out of one breakout when another gets positive Twitter chatter.

4.  Remember, "Hallway Conversations" are the best part of a conference.  People often claim that the spontaneous conversations they have with others after keynotes or breakouts are where some of the best learning takes place.  Make an effort to engage others in deeper discussions.

5.  Plan for follow up.  Meeting people once does not make them part of your network.  If you want to create meaningful long-term relationships it takes effort.  Think about how you can extend the dialogues after you get home.

Take ownership of the next conference you attend and get the most from the entire experience.  Oh, and have fun, too!!!

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

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