Community events are a great way to network with others, learn something new, or both. Here’s how you can get the most out of your next conference.
If you have never gone to an industry related conference then you are missing out.
I know because I used to be that person that avoided them. It wasn’t until after I started regularly attending conferences that I saw how valuable they can be for building a business, building a network, learning, and just having fun.
In fact, if you are part of the virtual work-force then attending industry events is almost a necessity. Meeting people in person is a lot different than talking with them through email or in slack.
But if you have never attended an e-learning, online course, or perhaps WordPress related event then you might be feeling intimidated. It’s true that conferences are as good as you make them. Some people will go to an e-learning conference and walk away with lucrative business leads while others will attend the same conference and feel like it was a waste of money.
To avoid being in the latter category my tip is to go to the event with three objectives: to learn something, to meet someone, and to teach someone.
Conferences in the instructional design field (course creation, learning program development, e-learning technology, etc.) are built around sessions where people share their knowledge on that specific subject. There are usually talks across a variety of disciplines so you are likely to find something that interests you. Go to these talks – it’s a great way to informally learn something about your industry that may be beneficial to you in the future. It may even spark your interest in a sub-field of the industry.
Attendees of an event are usually included on the event page somewhere. If not, you will at least get a list of the speakers and their biographies. Make a point to meet one of these people, if only to introduce yourself. What I have found is that this forces you to be more outgoing, and once you do it one time it becomes easier to do it over the course of the event. You will end up meeting many people, not just one. But it all starts with one. 🙂
As you talk to the other attendees and presenters then don’t be afraid to share your knowledge in a particularity area. Chances are that you know something that someone else does not know. By sharing what you know you make their event better. They learn something and you give-back to your industry. It is just as important to “give” to an event as it is for you to get some key takeaways. You will also find that this makes the event more enjoyable for you as well.
So that’s it. I have found that this simple agenda can be applied to industry conferences of any size or type. Learning something, meeting someone, and teaching someone are not be isolated events either, but instead they often lead directly to the other. For instance, you may learn something then after the talk introduce yourself to the speaker. You then share something on the session topic that the speaker didn’t know previously. They introduce you to their colleague and the cycle continues.
If you didn’t make it to an event of any kind this year, then that’s fine. Coming in January many of the e-learning industry events will start publishing their details. Keep an eye out for them and start making plans!