A big KEY to making the most of your conference experience


The vendor marketplace is the place to be at a conference.
The vendor marketplace is the place to be at a conference.

I am preparing to attend the SHRM-Atlanta 2013 conference on Monday April 29th and Tuesday April 30th. I will be blogging and live Tweeting from the sessions and the conference marketplace. Whether you are attending this conference or any of the multiple SHRM affiliated conferences here is a KEY tip for making the most of your conference experience.
The sessions and the speakers are always valuable, but the real value for me is derived from the time I spend in the marketplace. The value is found in three places in the marketplace. First was reconnecting with people I had not seen in a while, both attendees and vendors. As much as you would like to stay in touch with people it is hard to do so in the course of the day-to-day routine. So meeting an old friend or acquaintance wandering around or staffing a booth is always a pleasant event. In doing so I catch up on what they are doing and where they are in the world. If I happen to see two at one time I try to be a “connector” for them and introduce them to someone they have not yet met. This follows along with a keynote address I heard one year on Netweaving, presented by Bob Littel.
Meeting new people
The second value derived is connecting with someone I had not previously met. I make several new acquaintances at every conference I attend, either through an introduction or by walking up to a vendor and sticking my hand out and introducing myself. You never know where that introduction may lead.
Time with the vendors
The third value is learning what vendors are offering these days. As a consultant I try to be a resource for my clients, and not in just things that I can offer. So hearing what is being offered, what is cutting edge, what is new and exciting is invaluable to me. If you aspire to be strategic in your organization you have to have some foresight. Foresight is gained by doing research and the best way to do that research in the most convenient way possible is to walk around a conference marketplace. Yes you may have to listen to a sales pitch,  but that is ok. Knowledge comes at a price. It will not kill you. Plus, you have an opportunity to get some great “swag”. Pens, cups, and other gizmos always make a conference fun.
 The next time
So the next time you attend a conference make an effort to spend time in the marketplace. Make an effort to meet the vendors and learn more about what is going on and available outside of your office. If nothing else reward these vendors who pay big bucks to be there, it helps keep your cost of attendance down.

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