Resolve to be a Better Attendee

Being a few weeks into the New Year, you may have begun to slack and are no longer on track with your well-intended resolutions. That does not mean that you should abandon the drive to better yourself as it's not too late to register for events to help you do so. Getting approval in the government community to attend events can be a month-long or more process, so now is the time to take action. Once you have approval, make sure you are getting the most out of that event to prove ROI to your organization and to yourself.

After you are signed up to attend an event, no matter if it is a multi-day out-of-town event or a local breakfast meeting, it's important to define your goal for attendance. Is it to learn? Meet new people? Network with specific contacts? Gather information for others in your department? Likely a couple of these will be a part of your rationale for attending. This article provides some great planning checklists organized by each of these goals (as well as others) so you can plan your time accordingly.[Tweet "Resolve to be a Better Attendee -- Define your goals for the events you attend. #GovEventsBlog"]

No matter your overall purpose for attending, there are a number of small goals you should ponder leading up to the event. Consider approaching each event like a reporter approaches a news story.

  • Who: Find out who will be at the event. Speakers are easy to find on the website. Some shows publish attendee lists, but for most events you have to get creative. Follow the show hashtag on social media and see who is talking about the event. Make note of people that you'd like to meet. Look at media coverage of past events and see if past attendees and speakers are mentioned. Make sure you know something about the key contacts attending the event such as their recently published article, initiative within their organization, etc. to help get conversations started.[Tweet "Consider approaching each event like a reporter approaches a news story. #GovEventsBlog"]
  • What: Study the event agenda and make your schedule ahead of time to ensure you get to the sessions key to your goals. Make sure you understand the style of these sessions. Are they lectures, panel discussions, interactive audience experiences?
  • Why: Draft up a set of questions you want answered by the time you leave the event. Many of these will happen organically, but if they don't you'll have a ready list for when the presenter inevitably asks, "Any questions?"
  • When: Look at the timing of the event. Does it fall over a time that you traditionally get really hungry or tired? Pack an energy-fueling snack to keep you focused. Also, consider that many events can run over so don't schedule meetings that start right at the time the event is supposed to end.
  • Where: Make sure you understand traffic patterns getting to and from your event to avoid delays and frustration. Take a look at the surrounding area and plan ahead for places to meet with people for coffee or lunch during event breaks or before or after the event takes place.[Tweet "What tactics have you tried to get the most out of event attendance? #GovEventsBlog"]
  • How: Think about how you can use the information you learn beyond storing it in your own head. Will you need to recap the event to your boss or coworkers? Plan to take a few minutes to organize your notes immediately following the event while the content is still fresh. Is your goal to make connections? Make a plan on how you will follow-up with people and act on the ideas you learned after the event.

We'd love to hear what goals you set for yourself at government and industry events. What tactics have worked to help you get the most out of attendance? Let us know in the comments.

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