How conference attendance benefits your team
Listen to learn and be willing to put yourself on the line by asking questions. Sometimes you may not get an answer, or you may be ignored. Don’t give up. Ask someone else or ask a different question. If you want to get the most for your question, begin with “how” or “what” to obtain a longer answer. Of course, the next step is obvious: listen to the answer and evaluate its value for your practice situation.
Once you have gathered information through listening, educating yourself, and asking questions, remember to respond. Give back something you know or have experienced. This is a great way to confirm your understanding and ensure your learning. The exchange will also give understanding to the other person. Remember, no person is an island. We all can learn from each other. Make your responses informative rather than opinionated. Ensure your feedback contains information for verification.
If you are a full-time manager, your practice’s success and growth depend on access to talented individuals both inside and outside your practice walls. Routine conference attendance allows you to build a network of people you can later draw upon — know their interests, skills, and possible availability. As you take on new projects, consider who might be ready to mentor you and explore the possibility of regularly meeting with them. Most people want to feel both needed and appreciated. Ask for someone’s help, and explain why you are asking. Even if it does not work out, your interest will be noticed. Next time, a conference attendee may approach you for help— and it may be just the right fit at the right time. Also, keep in touch with the people you have met at past conferences.
The last step of gaining knowledge at a conference is application when you get back home. What are you willing to change? Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Some have said a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Rather, take your new learning and try it out a little. Keep at it. It may take longer, but persevere and you will apply your new knowledge to your practice’s unique challenges.
Listen. Educate. Ask Questions. Respond. Network. When you follow this process, you will attend this year’s crop of professional conferences and LEARN. When you learn, you will earn — you will earn the respect of others, and most importantly, you will earn respect from yourself.