Conferences: More than Content

By Liv Hagerman, Events & Membership Associate

Should you attend the conference?

The key attractive point of a conference is the material. Is it supplemental to your job? Are you learning something new? These things make a conference appealing but there is a lot more to a conference than its contents. What if the material is beneficial and interesting but not necessarily new? An important aspect that should urge you to want to go to the conference is the simple chance to network.

Valuable Resources

It’s amazing how much we can learn from each other, without even realizing it. When talking to someone in a similar but different position you are able to see how they handle certain situations. You can consider their technique and process and whether or not their results were successful to help figure out your own process when faced with a similar situation. Everyone has their own technique on how they go about their day to day activities, when you discover one that works better than what you were previously doing you can tweak your way to make it better.

Networking Should Be Both Natural and Planned

From a facilitating point of view, networking is a large part of the conference. Make sure to plan in break times (with snacks – people love snacks) and social events for your attendees to mingle. People consistently value and rate highly the networking opportunities on their conference evaluation.  Sometimes people attend conferences and never even attend a single session because they value the opportunity to interact with their peers. While I don’t recommend that, it proves the value of these interpersonal experiences.

Up Close and Personal

Human beings are social beings! Networking is the chance to relax and share information. It’s a casual way of learning that doesn’t have the pressure of the presentation room. A lot of the time, attendees will learn more from their peers than the presentations. Why? The conversations that happen are extra engaging! Generally, these conversations are more intimate since they’re one-on-one or in small groups of three or four. When given the time to get to know each other, you gain a different  perspective in your industry and build authentic relationships.

Happy Attendees = Success

I’m not saying that content isn’t important; the content is your biggest seller! However, a conference shouldn’t rely solely only on its content for it to be a success. Some of the most important information can be the driest presentation but still necessary and a large selling point. Networking makes a conference fun, and can help elevate moods to keep attention sharp.