I had the pleasure of attending Training 2012 last week in Atlanta, GA. It was great to see such an event come to my own home city (and it made for easy travel arrangements as well). The event was held and the expansive Georgia World Congress Center which I’ve visited numerous times for many events from concerts and conferences to career fairs and religious services. For three days I woke up each morning and navigated Atlanta rush hour traffic. Atlanta didn’t serve up it’s best weather, but the climate inside Training 2012 was warm and welcoming. With a morning serving of Starbucks each day I was set up for half a week of learning about, well, learning.
After attending the conference I’ve come up with five things I think that every professional should make sure to do when attending a learning or training event. These steps most likely also apply to any professionally focused conference one might attend and I’d use the same approach if going to a technology conference or industry focused summit. Try to check all of these off the list next time you head to a large scale conference and expo and I think you’ll find you maximize your time there and recognize some benefits as well.
1. Attend Keynotes
This one may seem obvious, but you will be amazed at the number of empty seats one might see in a keynote session. It is not uncommon to see attendees scattered outside the lobby of the auditorium on conference calls that “just couldn’t wait” while innovators, CEOs and masterminds present and share golden nuggets of information. Then there is always someone who walks out halfway through the keynote presentation, missing what is usually a conclusion full of advice for your industry, practice or profession.
Training 2012 had excellent keynote presenters, including Dan Pink who started off by listing out the three keys to a great keynote presentation: brevity, levity and repetition. He stuck to all three as he addressed mastering purpose and using it as a motivator for employees. Speaker Miguel Nicolelis amazed the audience with research that seeks to merge brain functionality with machines creating the possibility for quadriplegics to walk again. Stedman Graham challenged us to change our thinking and routines in order to maximize our potential. He joked about his romantic connection to Oprah Winfrey telling attendees not to merely be defined by those around them, but to define themselves.
Keynotes can be once in a lifetime opportunities and you never know when what you hear could be a boost to something you need to do in either your personal or professional life.
At our upcoming Enterprise Learning! Summit, DC taking place March 20-21, 2012 we will hear from a number of powerful keynote speakers. Leland Melvin, NASA astronaut will present “One Small Step for Mankind, One Giant Leap for Education.” Retired US Navy Captain and former POW Dave Carey will present, “The Courage to Lead.” We’ll also hear from SuccessFactors CEO Karie Willyerd, Jay Cross, Principal of Internet Time Alliance and Nick van Dam, Global CLO at Deloitte.
2. Tweet, Tweet & Tweet
In 2012, if you are at a conference and not live tweeting you are missing out on the action, discussion and networking that goes on behind the scenes of every major professional event these days. Live tweeting doesn’t mean you have to lug a laptop around everyday either. Many attendees of Training 2012, which used hashtag #Training2012, stayed active on social media with tablets, iPads and mobile phones. You can simple tweet out points during presentations that resonate with you or even ask questions that moderators may present to the panel or speaker. Tweeting during a professional conference like this almost always guarantees quality, new followers who you know have similar professional interests to your own.
3. Attend One Session that Sounds Boring on Paper
This one may sound silly, but I challenge you to try it. We often go for the sessions that have the exciting names, headlines and descriptions. But sometimes it is the sessions with a mundane title or somewhat humdrum summary that end up being the most engaging or content rich sessions. At Training 2012 there were a number of sessions on exciting trends like social media and mobile learning. While I enjoyed those, one of the most interesting sessions was “Designing User Friendly Job Aids” with John Courtney. Not only was this session informative it had more attendees than some of the other sessions with hipper titles. As someone who had to create job aids for Talent Management System users I learned some practical tips in the session.
Our Enterprise Learning! Summit pre conference workshop titled “Let’s Get Real About Measurement” is bound to take a subject that some find tedious and shed light on the best ways to leverage learning analytics and data in your organization. Bob Danna, Executive Vice President and COO at Bersin & Associates will lead this three hour workshop which promises to provide best practices in the area of measuring the impacts of learning.
4. Network Outside Your Group
I attended Training 2012 solo, but at times we attend conferences and professional events with colleagues and coworkers. It is easy to stick with the same people throughout the entire week or days of the event. Make sure to mix things up by going to different sessions or just merely sitting next to different people in workshops or at lunch. Part of the purpose of these professional events is to learn, but we also learn by widening our network and sharing experiences with tools, technologies and strategies. See the “Tweet, Tweet & Tweet” section above, as this is another way to connect and meet with others virtually and then perhaps in person over coffee between sessions.
We’ll have a number of ways to network at the Enterprise Learning! Summit next month. Networking sessions, luncheons, receptions and dinners will be throughout the event.
5. Cruise Through the Expo (Don’t Rush!)
It is easy between keynote sessions, workshops and presentations to rush your way through the expo hall after lunch or in small bursts. Particularly if you are a decision maker in the buying process, make time to stroll through the expo hall allowing time to meet with vendors and talk to them about their latest offerings. During my turn around the Training 2012 I was able to meet several companies based in Atlanta, such as Intellum, a learning management and e-learning provider.
At the Enterprise Learning! Summit attendees will have a chance to meet our Learning! 100 award winners. There are multiple chances to meet and interact with the winners and learn more about their success stories at the Learning! 100 Networking Reception and Learning! 100 Awards Dinner, both on March 20th. We will also have Learning 100! presentations throughout the day on March 21st.
So get out there. Attend those 2012 conferences, and make sure to remember the 5 things you must do to maximize the experience!
See you at the Enterprise Learning! Summit next month!