To stay on top of your career and ahead of your competition, you have to make learning a lifelong, ongoing process. Conferences, seminars, and workshops are acknowledged forms of training, information-gathering, and networking. They are usually short, practical, and up to the minute. But such events must be more than just a day away from the office. If you want to take full advantage of these opportunities to invest in yourself, you’ll need to be aware of the following advice…

How to get the most out of a conference to better your training.

1. Prepare yourself beforehand.

Your attendance and participation are investments in yourself, so don’t leave preparation to the last minute or allow ‘emergencies’ to limit your pre-event preparation…

  • Study the agenda, and focus on what you want to get out of the event.
  • Talk to your boss about the program and find out whether there is information you should concentrate on.
  • Do any pre-reading, recommended or otherwise, that will increase your knowledge and understanding of the topic. If the presenter or facilitator is the author of a particular book related to the event, read it. Take notes; list follow-up items and possible discussion points.
  • Consider and contact others attending from your organisation. Discuss with them thoughts and ideas triggered by your pre-work to date. You may consider still others who should be going and recommend their attendance – either to them or to their bosses. You might consider contacting those from other organisations who may be interested. Your actions will be appreciated.
  • Make a ‘learning contract’ with yourself by listing what you want from the event and will actively seek out.

2. Be determined to maximize outcomes.

Your attendance and participation deserve maximum results, so resolve to behave in ways that deliver those outcomes. Your list of resolutions might include these:

  • Be on time so that you don’t miss parts of sessions.
  • Avoid internal and external distractions.
  • Take risks and try some new behaviors.
  • Raise issues of concern to you.
  • Disagree with an opinion you think is wrong.
  • Be open to ideas or approaches you would normally reject.
  • Ask the speaker the questions that are on your mind.
  • Start conversations with strangers during the breaks.
  • Stay attentive and avoid the temptation to daydream.
  • Be optimistic that a problem you have can be solved at the conference.

3. Arrive early and network.

Look on your attendance as an opportunity to spread your network of contacts. Tom Peters in ‘In Search of Excellence’ says that ‘meeting your colleagues and friends is the most important aspect of a convention’. After registering, select a position near the door or the coffee service area where you can see and acknowledge most others attending. A mix of familiar and new faces will add variety to your networking. Don’t forget to include a presenter or facilitator on your list of networking contacts. Remember, the one topic that most people enjoy discussing is ‘themselves’. Exchange business cards and, if necessary, arrange follow-up meetings. Jot on the back of the cards points about the contact and where you met. Don’t leave it too late to take a seat at or near the front of the room.

For more information about career and success, Contact Us at Global Training Institute. At Global Training Institute we are passionate about helping people succeed and achieve their career and life goals. Global Training Institute is a Registered Training Organisation and offers accredited online training in the areas of Management, Business, Civil Construction,Local Government, Governance, Mining, Leadership and Project Management.

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