Are you planning on attending one of the upcoming SAPinsider events in Las Vegas (Managing SAP Projects, Reporting & Analytics Interactive, SAP Simple Finance Bootcamp or BPC Bootcamp) or really any event for that matter?
Attending conferences is one of my favorite things for a number of reasons and I’ve spent quite a few years involved with them both from the producer side and the attendee side. What I’ve found is that events provide a great opportunity for not only professional development, but they also foster an environment to network and learn from both experts and like-minded professionals in the industry.
1. Fail to plan, plan to fail
My first key piece of advice is to always have a game plan before the event. Spend some time reviewing the program and schedule and more importantly come up with a list of key questions you want (and need!) to get answered. This will help you best structure your time at the event. Events can fly right by and if you don’t have a plan beforehand, you run the risk of missing out on great learning and development opportunities.
2. Bring Business Cards
It’s happened more than once, you’re in a great conversation, you reach in your pocket, and you realize you left your business cards at home. Even in the age of social media outlets like LinkedIn and Twitter, Business Cards continue to remain the easiest and most effective way to share your contact details. They are also much more personal and give you an immediate opportunity to promote your brand. So make sure you have enough on hand before heading to the conference.
3. Don’t miss out on the networking activities
Most conferences come equipped with scheduled networking activities to help promote meaningful discussions. Whether it’s speed networking, a cocktail reception, a coffee break, or a facilitated discussion during one of the sessions, make sure you take advantage of these opportunities; you never know who you will meet! Conferences can be busy, you’re trying to attend all the sessions you want, meet with colleagues, and keep up with life back at the office, but don’t let that keep you from these valuable opportunities and make sure you carve time in your calendar for them.
4. Do a Daily Recap
I know, I know…. it’s been a long day, and what you are really looking forward to is a relaxing dinner and maybe a drink or two with your friends and colleagues. But don’t discount the benefit of writing up a quick recap of your day. A lot goes on while attending conferences and if you wait until the end of the week, its more than likely that something will fall through the cracks. Whether it’s a write up for your boss, a summary for your colleagues or just for yourself, make sure to write down your key learnings, who you spoke with, and any additional questions you still need to get answered. Once the event is over, you’ll be glad you did!
5. Be Proactive and ask questions!
This has always been one of my key pieces of advice. I always encourage attendees to speak up during the sessions if they have a question, because more than likely, someone else in the audience is wondering the same thing. If you’d rather not, at least make sure you track down the expert or speaker after the session or to grab their contact information to get the answers you need.
6. Meet with the Event Sponsors and Exhibitors
Being pitched products can get old pretty quick. But the key thing to keep in mind is that a lot of these companies have services, solutions, and experts in your field and industry that may have the answers to some of your biggest challenges. You just won’t know until you put in the time to learn what they are all about. So take the time, walk around the exhibit hall; strike up a conversation, and learn about their product offerings (in addition to getting some cool gadgets to take home with you).
7. Go Exploring
More than likely, when you’re attending an event, some travel will be required. If you’re visiting a new place, make sure to take some time to get out and explore. Whether its trying a new restaurant or taking a site seeing trip, make the most of your time and get out and enjoy yourself.
8. Follow up with your new contacts
So now the event is over and you’re getting back into the swing of things at the office. But don’t lose momentum on some of the key contacts you’ve made. Make sure to send a quick follow up to make sure you stay connected with any new contacts you’ve made. You never know when it will come in handy.
9. Get inspired
Getting out of the office and attending a conference lets you focus on your company’s challenges in the most efficient way possible- by immersing yourself in an expertise-rich, how to environment learning environment. Take advantage of your learning experience and use the opportunity to get inspired on new ways to do things back at the office. You may end up yourself becoming the expert.
TruQua Enterprises will be participating at next week’s SAPinsider Reporting & Analytics conference, SAP Simple Finance Bootcamp, and BPC Bootcamp in Las Vegas. For more information, visit: www.reporting2015.com, www.simplefinancebootcamp.com, www.bpcbootcamp.com.