Three Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Conferences!

How do you get more out of conferences you attend?How do you get more out of conferences you attend?

I’m attending several conferences over the next several weeks. I bet many of you are, as well. How do you get the most out of the time and money you’ve invested? I have three ideas that might help you have fun while still walking away with several new ideas from your upcoming conference.

The first rule I embrace in attending conferences is to identify where the potential opportunities reside in the conference. Have a clear objective to what you need to make this conference a success. It could be meeting a particular person or partner. It could mean you get brought up to speed on a topic that you are working on. You may also look for great resources to help your team achieve their goals. Whatever the goal, make sure you keep it in mind to increase the odds of achieving it.

I try to determine what outcomes I want to see from going to the conference. Many times, my clients are paying for me to be at the conference. I work with them to decide the must haves to come from the conferences I attend. Also, which key people do I want to follow up with? I use my conference app to keep track of both the people I want to meet, as well as those I can follow up with that I didn’t cross paths with.

The second rule I embrace in attending conferences is to identify potential partnering opportunities with other speakers or resources. To do this, I might research the key speakers and presenters.  If possible, I look at the attendance list in advance to see who might be there that I want to meet. My pre-work process has allowed me to meet many key executives in my clients’ companies and their markets.  Many times, I also try to determine what might be valuable to the people I’m going to meet.

If the people I want to meet are speakers, I review their profiles to make myself familiar with their expertise. I might even prepare a question or two on their subject area that my readers or clients would be interested in learning more about. My only warning is to remember these people are working.  I’ve found a brief intro and then setting up a follow up call as a great way to keep the ball moving forward. I would prefer to help them rather than monopolize their time at these conferences!

The third rule I embrace in attending conferences is to make sure I share the value they create with others. Depending on the conference, I may share their information on my different social platforms. I use the opportunity to introduce their ideas to my social network in real time. It not only helps create visibility for the conference and speaker, but it also allows me to better understand how their ideas are being shared in social media.

I’ve met many great people by tracking hashtags using tweet deck at conferences. I retweet a large part of the activities with people on my timelines. Every conference provides a great group of new people to get to know. So watch this week’s timeline hashtag #outthink. My early research on the presenters tell me we are in for an exciting week.

If I find the information applicable to many people, I write a follow up blogs to share what I learn. This way I am forced to consider what the information might mean to the people I work with. The online journals can provide significant exposure in a short period of time for these people. Many of my clients have me do an executive briefing for their team when I get back. This way they can keep up with bigger trends while still working on their own projects.

One client in particular does an interesting twist on this. He asks who on their team I think should have been at the conference. Many times, those people set up a separate call to talk about what I learned and how it might be impacting their business. This helps me create significant opportunities for my clients and partners.

Finally, I have fun at these conferences. I’ve helped several clients find key people for their teams at these conferences. I try to introduce people I get to know to the right people when we are onsite. It always has a huge payoff for both parties involved.

See you at the conferences. I will be in Los Angeles for the IBM Outthink Tour conference tour this week.  I can’t wait to share who I see and what I learned with you next week.  See you then.

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