Trish McFarlane is the Principal Analyst for H3HR Advisors. H3 HR Advisors is the parent company for the HR Happy Hour Show. In addition, it is a full-service HCM advisory firm that provides thought leadership and support for HCM executives as well as vendors in the HCM industry. You can reach out to Trish on Twitter at @TrishMcFarlane.
This is a distillation of Trish’s great advice here:
Study the Agenda. When I began going to conferences, I rarely looked at all the session options. Now, I study the agenda and have a loose plan
Connect with people on LinkedIn or follow new people on Twitter. Start by looking up the speakers of the sessions you plan to attend. If they are on LinkedIn, send a brief but personal message stating that you’re looking forward to their upcoming session. Next, go on Twitter and search @hrtechconf.
Meet the Speakers/ Session Leaders. Plan to stay a few moments after the session to speak to the session leader. Most work very hard to prepare and love to hear your feedback.
Arrange to meet at least 3 people in person that you connected with via LinkedIn or Twitter.
Attend at least one session you think you may never use at work. People tend to gravitate to what we already know so by taking this approach you are forcing yourself to open up to a different topic or way of approaching work situations.
Take notes. Whether you take notes in a journal or using your netbook, iPad or smartphone, find a way to document those ideas you may need to tuck away for future use.
Think of at least a handful of “to do’s” inspired by the event, then DO them and document the results. I’ll raise my hand as “guilty” of coming back to work after an event and not doing anything productive that I learned at the event. What a waste! For the last three years, I write down ideas as I fly home and then over the next few months, I attempt to incorporate them into my daily job. Sometimes something clicks and I have great results and sometimes it’s something that doesn’t stick. Either way, I’m approaching my work with a creative and innovative spirit and using knowledge gained at the conference.
Remember, there are many reasons professionals attend conferences. The biggest benefit comes from networking. By trying new ways to boost your networking skills and opportunities you will come home knowing you had a successful event!