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Four Ways to Get Value from Conferences

Having just returned from PMI Global Congress North America in Chicago, including serving as one of the members of the Ask the Expert group, I thought I would share four tips on how to get value from conferences. Conferences provide great value for professional development, but you need to have a plan to get the most out of the conference (and to get the most for your money!) Consider what goals (e.g., learn new skills, meet new people) you want to accomplish from attending the conference and make a plan to achieve those goals.

Here are four ways to get the most value from conferences:

  1. Attend sessions! Plan ahead of time for those sessions you’ll attend that add value for you and your unique needs and challenges. What sessions enable you to learn new skills and/or build upon your current knowledge? What sessions enable for solving a business problem/challenge you have? What sessions enable you to learn about innovation or industry trends?
  2. Network! Take time to network. Use time between sessions, at breakfast or lunch, and during formal networking time, to meet new people. Brings lots of business cards with you! Share best practices, collaborate to solve challenges, provide your perspective and generally build relationships with others.
  3. Attend the after-hours events! Another great way to network and have some fun, too, is to attend after-hours event.
  4. Visit vendors! You may just find a great new tools that helps you back on the job or learn about some new upcoming technology. If nothing else, you may get a free T-shirt!

If you are going to go to a conference, go to the conference!  Don’t hang out in the room. Use the time you are there wisely; get the most you can from it.

As a member of project’s Ask the Expert group, I met a number of attendees at the 2017 PMI North American Global Congress who wanted to learn more about and explore a number of areas. If your conference offers such an opportunity as an Ask the Expert – jump on it! What better way to get ideas/thoughts/advice/suggestions from someone who has been there before.

If your conference has an app; download it! It’s a great way to stay connected with attendees before and during the conference.

Plan for the next conference you’ll attend: What will you do? What sessions will you attend? Who do you want to meet?

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