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EXECUTIVE STRUGGLES: GET MORE OUT OF YOUR CONFERENCE

ARE YOU GUILTY OF THESE CONFERENCE MISSTEPS?

The business world requires a lot of its members. From business trips and business dinners to meetings with prospective clients and a general lack of sleep, being constantly on the go can take its toll before you even realize, leaving you burned out and unable to focus on the important aspects of your job.

Attending conferences is a huge part of what it means to be a business person. A business trip can revolve solely around an important conference in a foreign city, and while the benefits of the conference are many, stumbling over the responsibilities involved with sitting through long presentations, networking, and taking notes can be exhausting and can send you for your mental “snooze” button.

Not getting the most out of your conference is something many of us are guilty of. But if you want to change your underwhelming conference experience, try removing the following habits from your conference etiquette.

DETACH FROM YOUR PHONE

If you’re like most professionals, you depend on your phone to keep you informed and connected to your colleagues, managers, and clients. You check your email multiple times a day, and you check updates on current projects even more. You have a continual stream of status reports, project updates and colleague requests at your fingertips. Keeping up with the office is part of your job, after all.

However, if you’ve gotten a spot at a renowned conference, and you bring your same smartphone browsing habits with you, it’s likely you’ll miss something highly important, or simply not be as engaged as you could be.

Try setting particular times to check your phone. Make sure that your colleagues and employees are aware that you’re at a conference and might not be able to get back to them instantly. Focus on the conference at hand; you’ll be glad you did.

LACKLUSTER NETWORKING

Social anxiety can rule the roost when it comes to conference networking. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep the night before, or maybe there’s a serious issue at your home office distracting you from networking effectively. Whatever the reason for you disengagement, it’s important to remember the incredible connections that can be made at conferences, and how important it is to represent your company well by mingling and speaking to a variety of people.

If inserting yourself into a group conversation makes you profoundly uncomfortable, why not start the networking process by speaking to someone who is sitting alone at a table? Talking to another conference-goer one-on-one will help ease you into the art of conversation and remove any distractions that an additional person might pose.

TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF TOO MUCH

When it comes to speaking to total strangers, nerves can get the best of us and send us on a seemingly never-ending journey of talking about ourselves. After all, when we’re nervous, it’s easier to talk about what we know rather than try to read and react to the interests of others.

Unfortunately, a nervous reliance on self-promotion or self-centered conversation isn’t the best way to impress a fellow conference-goer. The cocktail party rule is forever relevant when the art of effective conversation is the topic: try to keep an even balance between talking about yourself, your company and your plans and talking about the other person’s. In fact, when in doubt, center the conversation more around the person to whom you are speaking. You’ll learn more, and can rest assured that you didn’t seem narcissistic or pushy.

Networking should be about meeting, learning about and making connections with other people, either within your industry or outside of it. If you never ask questions and never acquire any information about anyone else, your networking efforts are simply not going to be very fruitful.

FAILING TO ACQUIRE THE RIGHT ACCOMMODATIONS

Setting yourself up for a miserable stay in your destination city is among the first ways that your conference experience can begin to go downhill. If you’re staying in an unsatisfactory hotel room or don’t have adequate transportation, you’ll have a lot of discomfort and distraction to contend with throughout your conference experience. Without adequate transportation, you might find yourself late to meetings or seminars, walking long distances just to get to the conference center or completely lost in your destination city while an important meeting goes on without you.

Without adequate hotel accommodations, you won’t get the kind of sleep you need to function sharply and efficiently. You also won’t have a place of respite to return to after a long day of meetings, a place to unwind, relax, and do something you enjoy. Without these vital aspects in place, you aren’t likely to be as involved with the conference.

With your next conference on the horizon, why not take a moment to consider whether or not you could make improvements to your etiquette, hone your networking skills, or go the extra mile to provide yourself with comfortable accommodations?

photo credit: simonhutchings via photopin cc