In our fast-paced, ever changing digital world filled with new technology and new choices every day, I love to stay on top of my hands-on learning game by attending conferences. Whether you attend as a speaker or participant, you can gain audience feedback and learn tons of knowledge, see how people are using technology and have some pretty interesting offline conversations to help get you to the next level of your business.
In addition to learning, I also love to simplify and share the relevant highlights for others to learn from, especially the ones who weren’t able to attend. January was a busy month that started with these two conferences:
New Media Expo, #NMX (Jan 4-6, 2014) Read my coverage and highlights here.
Consumer Electronics Show, #CES (January 6-9, 2014) Read my coverage and highlights here.
Since these were both in Las Vegas, I think an all-you-can-eat buffet is the perfect example to serve up lessons on how how to consume content from conferences without bloating. Think of content like the unlimited selection at a buffet — tons of dishes, variety, and unlimited quantities. But just because it is there, doesn’t mean you should eat it all, nor should you eat there every night. Sure we want it all, but we’ll bloat and won’t feel good about ourselves, so what is the key to successful consumption?
The first key is mindful consumption:
> Figure out what you need to know instead of what you want to know.
> Figure out the best way to learn and retain the content the night before.
> Stay flexible as last minute changes or new opportunities can present themselves.
The second key is pre-planning, being present and post-planning:
> Plan ahead by looking at the session subjects that match your top area of education or interest.
> Listen while observing others reactions and if the mood strikes, talk to attendees around you.
> Follow-up that same night or within two days after arriving home with a personalized note.
The third key is to download the information from your head each night:
> Downloading or reviewing your notes will help you get ready for the next day of content.
> To reinforce learning, you can create a blog post with tweetables while the content is fresh.
> Email yourself a top 3 priority action list each day to avoid overload once you arrive home.
In the past, I used to arrive with the whole day scheduled out and an agenda of who to meet and when. Over the past year, I have been working on being present and mindful, so now I show up, “Power up!” and arrive with one simple intention in order to be open to #HappyAccidents that can and will occur.
In conclusion, you can never replace the value of these #HappyAccidents or chance face-to-face connections, but when reality or resources aren’t always in the right place to enable you to attend, check out what people are saying about the event, so you can plan ahead for the following year to schedule and budget accordingly.
Just found an awesome blog post from Entrepreneur Magazine about The Dos and Don’ts of This Year’s Hottest Conferences!