I’m getting excited as I’m attending another conference next month. This time it’s Convergence 2017 in our national capital of Canberra. There will be two perspectives for me this time around: one as a speaker, and one as a participant.
When we attend a conference, we take time out of our busy schedules to pause, learn and connect, so it’s timely to revisit on of my earlier blogs to remind myself of the value of attending an event, and how to get the most out of a conference experience.
The quintessential learning village
Staying abreast of industry trends requires dedicated effort. When it comes to a hardwired human need for social connection along with self-directed learning, attending a conference ticks all the boxes - making it the quintessential learning village.
Conferences provide an ideal social learning environment. You get the latest thinking in your field, most of which isn’t even published in books yet, in the one forum. The agenda is carefully planned to bring you the latest and best. It’s the modern version of a clan gathering where the intersection of networking and learning takes place in an environment of focus and commitment. People have suspended their day-to-day activity in pursuit of social connection and information in non-hierarchical forum.
Just as we are hardwired to connect with others, the same goes for how we learn best. We are innately social beings who love to discover new things on our own. When we ‘join the dots’ and connect key learnings to our own experience, we experience the ‘aha’ moment which activates a reward centre in the brain. This concept of social learning, defined as ‘participation with others to make sense of new ideas’* is just how our brains are designed to learn.
Getting the most out of your conference experience
To enhance your learning experience at a conference, here are my three hot tips:
1. Think global
Look beyond your own city and country. There are conferences in all fields all over the globe, and it’s worth considering the option of combining a holiday with a conference. My Australian change management colleagues who have made the trek across the Pacific to attend an ACMP (Association of Change Management Professionals) event have not been disappointed! They have come back with ideas, insight and rave reviews. It will have an amazing multiplier effect on your network! Likewise, I'm hoping to see change professionals who hail from other countries land at Convergence 2017.
2. The thought leaders are everywhere: On AND off the stage
Network with everyone. Don't miss the networking options. You will meet as many interesting people off the stage as the ones who are presenting. If you are active on social media, you’ll meet people you’re already connected with and add so many more! It’s a meeting of the minds and you can bet that the delegates who’ve made the effort to attend such an event are as committed as you and will have an interesting spin on how they can apply the information.
3. Get onto social media in real time
Enhance your post-conference connections and reflection by back-channelling during the conference. Back channelling means you share your key learnings on social media (usually Twitter), ideally with photos, while you are at the event. By sharing learning, participants extend their own experience and others pick up on what delegates have taken away as key points. Most conferences have a dedicated hashtag to use in posts, so you can easily search online afterwards. The hashtag for Convergence 2017 is #Convrg2017.
Looking forward to seeing you in Canberra in March at Convergence 2017! It's the only dedicated change management conference in the Asia-Pacific, held on 7-9 March.
*definition from Marcia Conner
You can watch my lightning talk (yes a very short clip at four minutes) on this topic here!
If there are ways to improve collaboration with your network during change and uncertainty, what’s stopping you? This is one of the many areas we explore in greater detail in my #changehacks sessions.