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Getting more from conferences

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

As corporate training budgets get tighter, companies are becoming more selective about the type of professional development they offer their employees.

With the high costs of good conferences, it is vital to squeeze the most value out of your time and your employer’s money when you attend a conference.

You can get the most in terms of dollar value and learning experience by:

Being fully prepared and ready to learn. Do your best to clear your desk so that you won’t be distracted by what’s happening back at the office. Talk to your boss about how much “checking in” is required and, if possible, arrange for someone else to handle urgent matters that come up in your absence.

Trying something new and different. Some folks get into the habit of attending the same conference year after year. That’s fine, as long as you are picking up new ideas and making new connections each time. If, however, you keep seeing the same crowd, maybe it’s time to try a new conference in a new area and see what ideas you can pick up there.

Capturing new ideas. Don’t let good ideas get buried in your notes. Keep a separate “action ideas” list during the conference to remind you of what you want to apply as soon as you get home. Use a highlighter to flag new ideas during each session and review them later at the office.

Taking advantage of networking. Conferences are a great place to meet other people in the same field as you. Make sure to talk to new people at the sessions during lunch and other down times. If you share interests with someone, exchange business cards and send a follow-up email soon after the conference just to touch base.

Applying your new knowledge immediately. As soon as you return to the office, share what you learned with your colleagues and manager. Pick several good ideas and give them a try. Your manager will be reassured knowing that the conference was productive.

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