I believe business people can be divided into two groups: those who are energized by conferences and those who are depleted by them. I'm firmly in the first camp. Meeting new people, connecting with old friends, debating hot topics, hearing and amplifying new ideas motivates me. I participate in dozens of conferences each year, as a speaker or attendee.
Many colleagues have asked me how to get the most out of conferences. My guidance focuses on mindset: approach with an inquiring mind and a generous spirit. Here are my eight practical tips:
- Be purposeful: Many conferences have a lot going on, not just within the specific parameters of the conference, but also the surrounding events. Be clear on your goals and priorities. Is your goal to get perspectives on the latest thinking and practices? Is it to connect with new people? If your motive is deep learning, prioritize attending the talks. If your goal is to connect with people, spend more time at networking events. Go early to the receptions. In the case of the large scale events with limited capacity at the venues, signing up is no guarantee of admittance to your desired session. Know your goals and plan accordingly.
When it comes to forging relationships, there is no substitute for meeting people face to face. Conferences can provide a powerful forum for doing this at scale. Whether you loathe them or relish them, I hope this post provided you some tips to get the most out of attending business conferences. Tweet me your tips: @MargaretMolloy