Going to a professional conference can be an intimidating experience. Coming up this month is the annual WSIA Conference. Three full days of networking and learning with over 4,000 insurance professionals can seem overwhelming to even the veteran insurance professional. With a little foresight and an established plan one can make the most out of their experience this year in San Diego.
Planning and being prepared is my number one suggestion for any work conference; especially for one the size of a WSIA. Plan which presenters you want to see and do a little research on those individuals beforehand. It will be impossible to see everything you’re interested in. If you’re going with a group from your office, plan together and share notes afterwards.
Download the App!
Seriously, there is an app for the WSIA conference which can help you plan your time more effectively. Don’t forget to schedule time outside of the sessions as well. Know which networking receptions you want to go to, connect with colleagues beforehand and make time to see each other for coffee, lunch, or a happy hour. If you wait until the week of the conference to plan get-togethers, you risk missing the people you really want to connect with due to booked schedules. Lastly, if you are in a leadership position, a work conference is a great time to do an office get together. A dinner or a baseball game or a night out can be a great team bonding experience.
Have Defined Goals
The WSIA conference is too big to get to everything. In addition to planning your time you need a plan for your goals. Do you want to learn as much as possible in breakout sessions? Do you want to meet specific clients/colleagues? Do you want to meet as many potential new contacts as possible? Or do you want to meet with colleagues from other companies? Whatever your goal, whatever you want to get out of the time at the conference, plan for it and make it a reality.
This one seems easy doesn’t it? You have a stack of business cards in your briefcase, or 25 new linked in connections after the conference. You get back to work on a Monday and you’re swamped catching up from everything you missed while you were away. Those contacts you worked so hard to cultivate can quickly become cards in your desk drawer. Follow up! Stay late one day that week and type out short emails to everyone you met or send a quick note to them on LinkedIn.
We know the insurance industry is volatile and you never know who it pays to have a connection to! When you get cards at the conference, write a quick note on the back of where you met them and a note so you’ll remember them.
A professional conference can be an overwhelming experience if you go in with no prior planning. With a little foresight and these tips you can make the most out of the upcoming WSIA conference, and you’ll assure a positive impact to your business.