Conferences can either be very productive and enjoyable or overwhelming and stressful depending on how you approach them.
Attending these HR conferences could take a big bite out of your budget. But despite all the investment of time, money and emotional energy, these conferences can provide a lot of valuable information which can contribute to your organizational growth as well as your individual growth.
How do you make the most of an HR conference? Well, here are a few tips that can give you a little direction on what to do and what not to do before, during and after an HR conference to make the most out of it.
Set Clear Goals
Understand why attending the conference is important for you. Make a list of reasons for attending the conference and write down how this conference can help you with your current problems and career needs. Outline your company goals and check if this conference can contribute to the success of those goals. Align your company goals with the conference goals. Keep these goals clear and specific. Also, prepare ahead for the conference with the event schedule and agenda of the conference.
Reach the venue early (five to ten minutes). This gives you time to find your place and connect with people in the conference. Arriving early allows you time to relax, take a deep breath and prepare whereas arriving late to events/ conferences is disruptive for everyone else attending the conference.
Bring Plenty Of Business Cards
Bring a lot of business cards to exchange with anyone at the conference that you’d like to stay in touch with. Don’t be shy to speak with strangers, be approachable. Despite having technology at the tips of your fingers, a freshly printed, crisp business cards are always a good idea because while a new contact can get lost in the digital abyss, a business card could remain for a longer time.
Put your phone away and take notes during the session. Taking down handwritten notes are more distraction free than doing it on a laptop or a mobile phone. Also note down the words of wisdom from the speakers and tweet/ share them socially. This will help your followers understand that you’re staying current with your industry trends.
Network, Network and Network!
Networking is one of the very important reasons why people choose to attend HR conferences. Have informal discussions with people who attended the conference with you. Have chat with the speakers. Listen to what people have to say. Get involved, ask questions and understand the agenda of the event. Collaborate with your peers rather than just senior leaders of the HR industry, everyone has insights to share!
Drink a plenty of water and stay hydrated during the conference. It might not seem like a big deal, but your brain burns a lot of mental calories during events like this. Getting to know new people, interacting with them, understanding what the speakers talk about and constantly trying to realize how this could help your company goals could drain your brain and body. So stay hydrated and fresh!
Don’t Dress Uncomfortably
It is important to dress up formally, but if it is making you uncomfortable, opt to more comfortable dressing, that is clean, pressed and matches the event aesthetic. Just because your boss isn’t around, it doesn’t mean that you show up in shorts. Take time and put effort into your attire so that it is comfortable for both yourself and people around you.
Don’t Spend All Your Time At The Free Stalls
Sometimes, attendees are more keen towards the free stuff and collectibles at stalls in a conference. It is good to just explore the stalls and soon get back to the main purpose, the conference. Do not spend all your time at these stalls, make use of your time to talk to the speakers and other attendees.
Don’t Miss The Keynote Speeches
The keynote speakers in an event are usually influencers or industry leaders and have a lot of valuable insights to give. Their speeches give both experienced professionals and beginners a different perspective to think from. So, when you’re attending these conferences, make sure that you don’t miss the keynote speeches!
Don’t Multitask, Focus!
Sometimes, attendees try to multitask during a conference because they aren’t able to resist the urge to work on other stuff on their laptops during the conference. This practice is considered rude, and also you cannot focus completely on multiple tasks at the same time. The whole purpose of attending a summit will be lost. So, keep your laptops and mobile phones away and focus on the conference. Make use of your time at the summit!
Each conference is an opportunity for learning new things and explore endless possibilities of an industry. It is understandable that you traveled a long way to attend the conference and that you’re jet lagged but make sure you get that dose of caffeine so that you don’t fall asleep and miss out on the conference.
Don’t Forget To Follow-up
Always remember to have a follow-up plan. Sort out all the business cards you received from the conference and make a list of follow-ups. This list could include people who had some innovative solutions to your requirements or vendors that you’d like to know more about. Send them follow-up emails or Linkedin invites or connect with them through any other major social media that they use.
Join us in London for the [Engage+Perform] HR summit, on Thursday, January 24, 2019 and engage with thought leaders in HR and Talent Management, on the future of Performance Management and Employee Engagement.
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