Are You Attending a Conference This Year?

What’s your plan for attending conferences this year?  Conferences and seminars can be a worthwhile investment because they feature so many of the top practioners in your field.  I know this is a difficult economic climate for conferences, and even if you’re normally a regular attendee, maybe it’s just not in the cards this year.  However, I want to put in a plug for conferences or seminars, and hope you’re still finding a way to get out of your office and get to one of these events.  Here are four reasons to attend…

  1. You Learn Something New – the amount of new research I was exposed to in two days was staggering – lots of cutting edge information than I can use (most of which is not yet published). Talk about bringing something useful back to your team or company… I think these types of events are worth the price of admission if they provide a “first glance” or an exclusive look at data that you can’t get anywhere else.
  2. You’ll Get Useful Ideas – the last session of the final day featured a clever “best ideas” free-for-all that we all participated in – I walked away with at least 10 ideas that I could see recommending to clients (and that others could implement in their organizations). If you get engaged, you really can learn something at these conferences that you can put to immediate use.
  3. The Networking Is Easy – do you find it hard to meet people doing what you’re doing at other companies? These types of events make it easy for you – you’re literally thrown together for 2 days, and if you can’t meet 5-8 new colleagues in a format like this, you’re trying hard not to; just visit with people at lunch and at your tables in the sessions. Even if you don’t like the cocktail reception or coffee break routines, it’s pretty easy to walk away with some new contacts by just attending the sessions. And that’s not to mention reconnecting with old friends in the industry…
  4. You’ll Have Time to Think – last month, we explored the value of just taking a break from your regular duties to take notes, ponder some interesting questions, challenge your own thinking, etc. Conferences and seminars offer a great opportunity to put on your creative thinking cap and stimulate new thoughts about how to be even more effective back on the job. Here’s my recommendation – get online today, and identify the 2-3 best events in your functional area or expertise (if you have administrative support, ask for assistance here). Download the program brochure, and study it for relevance, etc. Find a way to work it into your budget, then attend and get the most out of the session. Talk to as many people as you can – and if you’re shy and don’t like that kind of thing, tell yourself it’s a developmental opportunity, and make yourself do it. You’ll learn something, have time to self-reflect, meet some new people, and come back with some great new ideas to try back on the job. Oh, and you just might enjoy some play time in the host city – and what’s not to like about that?