05/09/2012 - 10:22

Look for the gems at your next conference

05/09/2012 - 10:22

Bookmark

Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

A good conference can be worth its weight in gold.

Look for the gems at your next conference

SOME people consider a conference a good excuse to get away from the business, let their hair down and drink too much. And maybe it is; but a good conference can be worth its weight in gold. 

I attended a conference earlier this year and made a point of attending with my mind and eyes wide open, and a desire to listen and learn. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good time and maybe a couple of drinks, but it gave me a whole different perspective on what a conference can offer.

A conference is an exceptional opportunity to work on your business and not in it. What you take away can have a profound impact on your business and possibly your life. It is a resource; you just have to use it. 

So how do you get the most from a conference?

To start with, you must be in a position where you receive notifications of upcoming events. Business publications, industry newsletters, television advertising are all mediums from which you can understand the conferences that affect you and your business.

The most important step is to enrol. Don’t procrastinate, don’t put it off – enrol and pay. This is the step where the majority of people miss the boat. It is too easy to put it off and then when you remember it, too late.

“Ah well, I’ll go next year,” you tell yourself ...

The next step is to turn up. It is hard to believe, but many people pay and then don’t turn up. There will always be reasons such as death, disability or illness, but the excuse that ‘the business can’t cope without me’ is not valid. If you want your business to grow and prosper then you need to invest and the time at the conference is a real investment. 

You’re at the conference you have your nametag and bag of goodies you have grabbed a glass of orange juice and are now hiding in the corner. 

Wrong. 

This is the prime opportunity to interact with your peers or people of like mind. To get the most out of the event you must mix, you must talk and, importantly, you must listen. Consider it good practice for when you have to talk to a client or prospect.

Most sessions are interactive, which means at some point there will be a question and answer opportunity; use it.

There is no such thing as a stupid question and I guarantee that for every question you have, others will have the same question. Be prepared and take notes, jot down some questions during the presentation. You have paid good money to be there and the facilitators expect and often hope that the audience will ask a question. 

Whatever you do, have an open mind. Take all the information in and then analyse it, but take it in first. You never know when a real gem will pop up, exposing myriad opportunities for your business. The attitude: ‘I have done it this way for 20 years and there is no reason to change’ will get you nowhere fast!

When I walked into that conference at the beginning of this year I was adamant that social media was not going to be a part of my life. But I did promise myself that I would have an open mind. 

Well, blow me down, social media was everywhere being spruiked by people much older than I am. I felt like a dinosaur and completely out of touch with the real world. 

I made a commitment to go back to my business and make changes to reflect the importance of social media to modern business. I did, and the benefits have been amazing and have grown my business and me. 

So what I can tell you about conferences is to have an open mind, listen and act. Take at least one thing away from a conference that you commit to doing, either in your business or on a personal level. It doesn’t have to be a major change, but any change for the positive is a change for the better.

And don’t forget, regardless of how tempting it may be, an attitude of ‘what happens on conference stays on conference’ is not a way to build relationships, build a business and maintain your assets. It is however a way to discover the immediacy of ‘social media’.

Happy conferencing.

Paul Rowe is chief executive of business management group Razor. 

Contact Paul on 0406 800 928 | prowe@razorbs.com.au


STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options