The Essential Six Pack for Conference Attendance
Each year brings with it a new slate of annual life science business and training conferences. With air travel, hotel and conference registration the investment in you can easily reach into the thousands of dollars. It is essential that the company receive the best outcomes from their investment of sending the employee to the conference. Newer or junior employees as well as seasoned staff should be reminded of these general expectations for them:
1 It's a meeting, not a vacation.
Everyone represents the organization, especially during social times. These post-session social times are perfect for making business connections. Just because a vendor has provided an open bar and DJ does not mean that you should take a memorable trip from one end of the bar to the other. Q: “Who’s that guy doing the air guitar solo?” A: “Some guy from So and So Bio”. Impression?: negative for the company.
2 Session attendance is required. No matter how late the evening, your sober presence at the session the next morning is required. Helping this is the free breakfast which is usually provided.
3 Move outside of your comfort zone. Do not just pal around with your co-workers and old friends. Introduce yourself to those sitting around you, exchange contact info and learn something about them. When you return back to the office connect with them on LinkedIn. Hint: Use something other than the standard “I'd like to add you to my professional network”. Remind them of where you met at the conference. This will pay off nice dividends in the future.
4 Be prepared with your elevator speech. Simply introducing yourself as “Department Manager at So and So Bio” tells the other person little of your company, your specialty and most importantly- where your business interests intersect.
5 Participate. Ask questions, offer up your approach to the topic, meet the vendors, go up and thank the speaker and moderator following the session, and provide survey feedback. Each of these actions will generate a positive re-action and help promote your company.
6 Debrief. Provide your supervisor with a report and give a presentation to the other staff of what you learned, who you met, and where opportunities exist for your organization. A report of useful information trumps a big bag full of tchotchkes. Plan to go again next year. By achieving the organization’s goals as demonstrated by your attendance, chances are good that you will get to return.
If the big news from your conference was how you could not navigate the escalator at the end of the night (or worse), then you probably owe the company their money back.