Over on E-Sourcing Forum, Melissa Beuc offered up her perspective last week on how to get the most out of conference season. It's a good basic primer. I agree with her premise, for example, that we need to do a better job networking. Here, Melissa suggests that you should "sit next to someone different each meal. Choose a different table after a break. Don't sit with business colleagues. Invite a speaker to talk over coffee. Collect business cards and make notes on the back so you can remember what you spoke about. Follow-up with key contacts after you get back to the office." All good pieces of advice for meeting new faces who might be of assistance immediately or down the road. But to her broader list of suggestions, I would also add a couple more.
For one, I think it is important to ask the hard questions of speakers and panelists to hear what's really on their mind. Don't hold back. Ask for examples -- you'll probably get them. Most participants are too polite when it comes to Q/A. Don't be. If a speaker thinks a subject is too subjective or reveals too much, they'll tell you. But usually you'll get an answer. Might I also suggest to conference attendees that it's OK to walk out of sessions and keynotes which aren't doing it for you and head to another session or activity. "That's rude," you might say. But trust me. You're doing the speaker a favor. When people walk out of my presentations, I try to figure out why and tweak and improve the next time around. Vote with your feet as to the value of content!
- Jason Busch