Your Go-To Conference Checklist

  • Your Go-To Conference Checklist

    Your Go-To Conference Checklist

    There are more than 270,000 conferences and 10,000 trade shows each year. Conferences are one of the most valuable learning experiences if you go with the right attitude and have a plan when you return.

    Here are some things to think about to get organized before you go:

    1. Why are you going? There are usually 3 areas where we want to increase our knowledge:
      • Marketing your services better.
      • Running your own business better utilizing best practices and technology.
      • Increasing education in your industry.
    2. Once you have decided your learning ‘track’ you can then choose the workshops that align with your plan. If you are going with another person this is where you can collaborate. Maybe there are 2 workshops at the same time and you can’t decide. See if your colleague wants to go to one and you go to the other, then exchange notes and key findings from each session.
    3. Have a plan for organizing the information you will be absorbing and collecting while you are there. Try creating a folder in Google drive to upload presentation slides and make notes. From there, we set up a checklist of action items to take when we return home. You’ll likely be meeting a lot of people and collecting their information, so take pictures of business cards or conference tags. That way, you’re able to upload them to a file and set up actions to take when you get back to your office.

    While you’re at the conference, don’t forget that some valuable knowledge nuggets happen in between the workshops:

    1. Be open to talking to people. Ask people to have breakfast with you or grab a coffee.
    2. Go to the after-events that the vendors typically sponsor. It is a great way to learn more about those who share in your affinity for your field of work
    3. Drink plenty of water and get some sleep. Early morning meetings and late nights can dull your brain!
    4. If you can, stay an extra day. Use the time to get with your colleagues and share notes. Decide what you want to take action on when you return to the office. Important, pick 3 action items. If you choose too many action items, you will get overwhelmed and get NONE done.

    When you return you will be exhausted (if you did it right!), so follow these tips to unwind:

    1. Take your organized files and create a presentation for your team about what you learned – most importantly, those ‘Aha!’ moments. This presentation doesn’t have to be long but it should showcase what your action items are.
    2. Take those action items – things you want to learn more about, new processes to implement, marketing strategies, etc., and see who also wants to learn more. This can be your accountability partner.
    3. Follow up on the people you met at the conference. They can become ‘your people’ – for me these people have become the greatest support group.

    It can seem like a lot of work to go to a conference, you have to be away from work for a few days and the work can pile up but the time spent is well worth it. You will be learning the newest technology, best practices and  meeting the people who have a growth mindset.

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