August 14, 2013
- Plan ahead. Before leaving for the conference, look at the reasons why you chose this educational opportunity. Is it so you can make alliances and network with other professionals, or is there a knowledge gap that you’re trying to fill? Depending on your purpose, plan a strategy for making the most of this opportunity.
- Divide and conquer. If you’re attending the conference as part of a team from your practice, then decide ahead of time which events and ‘sessions’ each of you will attend so you can maximize exposure to all that’s available at the conference.
- Be realistic. Conferences, by their very nature, provide you with lots of ideas to try out when you return home. While that can be very energizing, it can also be overwhelming. Look for the best three ideas that you can implement immediately upon your return. Start planning your action steps before you leave the conference so you can capitalize on your energy, enthusiasm and the absence of distractions.
- Record your thoughts and ideas while you’re at the conference. Email yourself ideas, add networking contacts to your address book, post pictures on Social Media, take notes. Don’t wait until you get home to start acting on your thoughts. The reality is you will be distracted by work that piled up during your absence, and it may be several days before you have some free time to reflect on the ideas you learned.
- Share content and ideas with your team when you return. If possible schedule a meeting for a day or two after your return to begin to discuss ideas with your co-workers. Don’t worry about having a complete plan or all of the answers before sharing with others. Including others in developing those ideas will give them ownership and buy-in to the final implementation plan.
- Get out of your comfort zone. Make sure to attend sessions that introduce you to new ideas and new people. This is where your greatest growth opportunity is. But, be sure to balance that with products, ideas or concepts that will specifically address opportunities within your practice.
- Take advantage of the break from routine. Is the conference in a city you’ve never visited before? Are there conference extras that will allow you to network with the presenters (sometimes that’s a ‘night before’ cocktail reception)? Does the hotel offer amenities such as a spa or work-out facility? If it’s in your budget, take advantage of the extras – relax, network and soak up the experience.
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