You’re about to attend your very first conference? How exciting! You’ll want to make the most of it, learning everything you can, and networking to your best advantage. If the prospect seems overwhelming, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with these helpful tips on maximizing the benefits of your first conference.
- Pack light, but remember the essentials. If it’s an established event, you can easily stalk the website to see what people are wearing. If not, bring some professional-looking basics that can be dressed up or down, as the occasion warrants. Don’t bother bringing notebooks and pens, as they’ll be provided for you, but do bring a large collapsible bag, into which you’ll put all the papers, freebies, and general swag you accumulate during the conference. One absolute “must” on your packing list is business cards, and it’s also smart to download the LinkedIn mobile app. If you’re going to pitch your product to anyone while you’re there, bring demo materials to make your presentation more effective. Don’t forget your chargers, and keep your devices charged during the event, so that you don’t have to be tethered to an outlet when you should be interacting.
- Know before you go. Study the agenda so you’ll be able to set goals for yourself at the conference and devise a plan to meet them. Attend all the conference-wide events, then carefully consider the smaller sessions, determining which ones will be most useful to you. If you can walk around the space ahead of time to get oriented, that can be helpful. If not, make sure to study a map so you’ll know how to get around. Find out who will be attending, perhaps by finding the event’s Facebook page or Twitter hashtag. That way you can make plans to touch base with peers and customers, and maybe even book some time with prospects so that you can have their full attention for a few minutes. Plan to get to the event early, so you maximize your time by registering before it starts.
- Have a strategy, so you can learn as much as possible. There will be a ton of information, packed into a short amount of time. By staying organized, you can retain most of what you’ve learned and keep yourself on track. Write notes on the back of business cards to remind you of conversations you had with the people whose names are on the cards. For sessions, consider digital note-taking, or at least make sure your notes are organized so that they’ll make sense once you’re home from the conference. Sit as close to the front as you can in the sessions you attend, and attend as many sessions as you can.
- Plan to interact. Remember, conferences are about more than just presentations. Networking is an important part of the opportunity you’re afforded at a conference. Make sure that you don’t just hang around with people you know; you’ll learn more by interacting with your competition, colleagues, and the thought leaders in your industry. Make sure to briefly meet each speaker you listen to, as well as the conference organizers. Strategize even your meal times: don’t eat lunch with your friends, choosing instead to make new acquaintances at the conference lunches, then choose people you’d like to know better to invite out to dinner. Try to connect with both existing customers and potential prospects, focusing on providing information rather than closing deals. Make sure to take the time to walk the exhibition floor, because you may be able to get free products and services for your business, as well as interesting swag. The after-parties, too, can be a wealth of information, as long as you stay sober, get to know people, and don’t leave the party early. Don’t neglect the social media aspect of conferences, tagging your tweets and Instagram posts to further connect you with the event.
- Don’t stop thinking about the conference as soon as it ends. Review the information you’ve collected while it’s still fresh in your mind, and share it with colleagues to whom it will be relevant. Immediately after the conference is also the best time to follow up with the people you met at the conference, while you’re all still fresh in each other’s minds.
If you’re in a position to weigh on the place where your conference will be held, it’s important to find a location that’s equipped with the right technology and tools to facilitate learning. At Texas Training and Conference Centers, we pride ourselves on the high-quality equipment and exceptional service you’ll find at our training facilities. Our computer labs and other spaces come equipped with internet accessibility, printers and fax machines, Wi-Fi setup, on-site tech support, full projection systems, workstations, whiteboards, and computers furnished with the most cutting edge technology, to ensure that your training event is a success. Soundproof rooms, continental breakfast, and optional catered lunches are just a few of the other ways we provide the little niceties that make a big difference for your event. For the past 18 years, we’ve provided exceptional service to businesses throughout Houston, and we have the expertise to help you make your event a success. To learn more about Texas Training and Conference Centers, call us at 832.982.1708 or contact us through our website.
What do you think of when you hear the phrase “team building?” Trust falls and sharing? Time with your coworkers that makes you want to run for the hills? As important as team building is for fostering camaraderie between coworkers and reminding them that working together is the key to success, it can be a real drag in practice. Fortunately, team building doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. In fact, we’ve got a few suggestions that will make your team want to come back for more team building.
- Give them something to figure out. Present your team with a word problem or a jigsaw puzzle- the task itself is not as important as doing it. Give them a certain amount of time to solve the problem or assemble the puzzle together, making it clear that everyone must participate, and then take some time to talk about strategy, roles played by different team members, and why people made the decisions they did. This kind of exercise can be enlightening, revealing interesting information about how your team members think and how they can work together.
- Complete an escape room together. These are becoming ever more popular, and it’s no wonder. They’re a fun way to work together as a team and accomplish something. If there are escape rooms in your city, checking one out can be a fun excursion. If not, you can create your own escape room, either on your own or by picking Escape Room in a Box.
- Brainstorm together. Sometimes, the best team-building exercise involves solving a problem you’re actually facing as a business. Take some time to hash out new ideas together, cluing your team in on the problem ahead of time, and asking everyone to come up with a few suggestions. Throw everyone’s ideas up on a board, and discuss amongst yourselves to come up with some great solutions.
- Learn about your personalities. Take a personality test together, and discuss the results. This is a fun way to get to know your coworkers, discovering commonalities as well as learning about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You may also learn something new about yourself in the process.
- Host an old-fashioned “Show and Tell”. Get together over snacks and talk about what’s going on in your lives, both professionally and personally. Give people the opportunity to brag about accomplishments, talk about hobbies, and discuss projects they’re working on, welcoming feedback.
- Do something that inspires healthy competition. There are many different ways to have fun competing with your coworkers. Maybe you’ll hold a desk decorating contest on a holiday, a cook-off or bake-off, or some other in-office contest. You might also take your team out for trivia night to let them show off their knowledge and work together. For that matter, you can invite a trivia host to your office and divide into teams to compete against each other. Board games are another way to loosen up and learn to work together as a team.
- Do something worthwhile. Look for ways that your team can have an impact on the larger community. Hold a can drive, volunteer, participate in a charity walk or fun run, do some community service work, or collect money for a worthy cause. Make participation voluntary, so that your team feels they’re doing something meaningful.
- Do something outside. Maybe it’s a ropes course, maybe a scavenger hunt, or perhaps participation in an intramural league. There’s something about being together in the fresh air that makes it easy to work as a team. It doesn’t have to be a physical event, either. If your team is more artistic than sporty, consider splitting into teams and making movies on a common theme, to be screened and judged on a particular date.
- Tell each other some stories. Talk about work experiences, using trigger words to get everyone started. Alternately, you can talk about things that have nothing to do with work, perhaps sharing your bucket lists and explaining why each thing on your list has meaning. The purpose of this kind of exercise is to get people to open up and share stories, in order to better understand each other.
One way to strengthen the unity of your group is to hold training sessions off-site, where team members can learn together and form bonds. At Texas Training and Conference Centers, we pride ourselves on providing companies with training facilities that feature high-quality equipment and exceptional service. Our computer labs and other spaces come equipped with internet accessibility, printers and fax machines, Wi-Fi setup, on-site tech support, full projection systems, workstations, whiteboards, and computers furnished with the most cutting edge technology, to ensure that your training event is a success. Soundproof rooms, continental breakfast, and optional catered lunches are just a few of the other ways we provide the little niceties that make a big difference for your event. For the past 18 years, we’ve provided exceptional service to businesses throughout Houston, and we have the expertise to help you make your event a success. To learn more about Texas Training and Conference Centers, call us at 832.982.1708 or contact us through our website.