Archive for July, 2010
Imagine for a moment a room filled with thousands of like-minded individuals. Everyone isthere for the same reason – to learn something new about the industry they love, to be inspired to be better and more excited about their chosen professions and to connect with people who understand the ins and outs of daily life as a creative professional.
This was exactly the scene at the 2010 HOW Design Conference this past June in the mile-high city of Denver, CO. In addition to being asked why attend industry conferences, I’m also asked how to get the most out of the experience. Let’s be real — the investment of time and money to attend any conference is pretty significant. You have the cost of admission, travel and lodging, and the days away from your family and your job! I’m a big believer in ROI (return on investment), so here are a few pointers on how to get the most from a conference experience.
In my last post about the HOW Conference, I focused on the importance of connecting with people. Here we will discuss the educational component of conference-going. In convincing yourself or your company to put up the cash for attendance, I’m guessing the most compelling reason was centered around what you could learn. There are some forward thinking managers who believe keeping you connected and inspired is important but, sadly, they seem to be a bit scarce. The question then is, “How do I maximize what I learn”?
First of all, walk up to the registration desk with a list of things you WANT to learn. Without looking at speakers and sessions decide what it is that your company, your career and your psyche want to glean from the conference. I’ve no doubt all afore mentioned entities know where they are and where they want to go. So, take a good hard look, unbiased by program offerings, at what you want to learn at the conference. I suggest the list be condensed to contain three items, no less and no more. With the list in hand register for sessions staying focused on what you want to learn.
Next, be open-minded about what you WILL learn. These may sound like contradictory ideas but they are actually complimentary. I’m a huge believer in charting a course but having the flexibility to make alterations along the way as unforeseen opportunities and obstacles come into your path. Don’t walk into sessions expecting ah-ha moments, miracles or perfection. Those do happen and every once in awhile you connect with what’s being said and have a “come-to-Jesus moment.” The presenters are people just like you sharing ideas and experiences. It’s 100% up to you what you learn because EVERYONE has something to teach. Look past personalities, communication styles and personal views and be open-minded about what you can take away. Attendees often spend more time critiquing every element of a presentation than looking for their own personal take-away. Sorry folks, but its not up to the event staff or the presenter to force a take-away into your hands. It’s laid out on the stage like a gift and it’s up to you to walk up receive it and take it home with you.
The HOW Conference provides abundant opportunities to expand and deepen your knowledge about design, business, career growth, life balance and so much more. It requires self-examination, planning, a willingness to be flexible and a genuine desire to be open-minded. As a greater community of creative professionals interested in furthering the industry, the relationship between the staff, presenters and attendees is key to the success of any conference. By entering into an unspoken agreement to be positive and constructive, everyone who experiences the conference can walk away feeling they have contributed and gained insights to furthering the industry and their careers.
Next up: Why the HOW Conference… INSPIRATION
For more information on the HOW Conference, visit http://howconference.com