Conferences offer an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and initiatives that further the interests of those our organization supports. Making the most of a conference opportunity involves preparation, participation, and follow-up. Sharing knowledge and information expands the value of our conference many times over.
Conferences can be very rewarding as we get to meet interesting people, share information on a variety of topics, and absorb valuable information that we can apply to our local situations. Presenters offer a variety of strategies, best practices, and new approaches to issues that are important for us to share with key people and organizations when we get back home.
One way to develop interest in what we might learn at the event is to share that you will be attending the conference with relevant groups you are affiliated with. This can set the stage for your sharing information from the conference when you return. Social media can be effective for this.
AT THE CONFERENCE
Attend all the sessions that you can. If someone else from your state or organization is also attending the conference, work out a team approach to cover concurrent sessions so that one of you is in each session.
Make connections. Follow up with presenters if you’d like to learn more about a topic. Get involved in “hallway conversations” with fellow attendees to share ideas during breaks. Exchange business cards to facilitate follow-on contact. Attend social events. Keep in mind that side conversations involve communication in several directions. Don’t discourage others by dominating a conversation. When in a discussion, make it a point to draw out other participants.
Continue to develop interest in what you might learn at the conference by posting some photos or remarks on social media while you are at the conference. The right images or remarks can build some excitement about what you might share when you return home.
Thank presenters and organizers. Show your appreciation for their hard work.
POST CONFERENCE SHARING AND FOLLOW-UP
The conference doesn’t end when the participants leave. The end of the conference is the start of the follow-up and sharing phase. Deliberate and thoughtful sharing can extend the reach and impact of the conference many times over. One goal we all share is to improve the situation for off-highway recreation. Expanding the reach of information presented at the conference can significantly contribute to that goal over time.
Be committed to sharing.
Attendees that prepared to share by noting key information during the conference will be able to get right to work when they get home. Don’t let conference information fall by the wayside as our day-to-day tasks back home start to take over.
Use social media to spread the word. Sharing a conference slide or two about topics relative to your interests on your organization’s social media platform can reach thousands of people in your local area in just a few days. What a great way to quickly share information and address some important points. Social media is a powerful tool to get relevant information out to both officials and enthusiasts alike. Sharing via social media is quick and easy and has a long reach.
NOHVCC will have slide decks from the conference available online. This allows you to share or refer to a complete briefing for those that may benefit from that. Using a link to the briefing makes it easy to refer to.
As part of the effort to extend the reach of the conference, NOHVCC will share articles about conference presentations online for several months after the conference. This is an important method to share with those that are subscribed to NOHVCC notices.
If more than one partner attends, it can be useful to coordinate sharing done with others between the partners. One partner may be involved with some groups more than the other.
Develop a plan to bring key people from organizations we are involved in or support up to speed on relevant topics. This can be done via phone calls, e-mails, meetings, webinars, and the like. Content presented at the conference may need to be tailored to apply to your local organizations.
Sometimes attendees return home with a lot of enthusiasm about what they learned at a conference. They may be anxious to get started implementing some of that. Too much information all at once can sometimes be greeted with indifference at the receiving end. It can take some time to gain understanding and acceptance of new ideas. A good approach might involve:
- Sort out information that is relevant to the organization involved. Refine it to make it pertinent to your local situation.
- Brainstorm to develop collaborative ideas and contributions. Form realistic goals.
- Establish incremental steps to implement new ideas. Going for the final goal all at once can seem to be too big of a reach for some.
Conferences are valuable resources that can help enable us to further our interests with off-highway recreation. NOHVCC is committed to making the most of our conference opportunities. A key element is the sharing that needs to be done once the conference ends.
Some key points:
Prepare for the conference. Make social media posts to develop interest and anticipation about information you will share after the conference.
While at the conference, make the most of your experience there by taking advantage of the information being shared in presentations, side conversations, and social activities. Actively plan some of the relevant post-conference sharing you will do as you are participating in the conference.
When you get home, go right to work starting to share relevant information with organizations, officials, and enthusiasts. Extend your reach and develop interest with the synergy of social media. Also use traditional methods, as appropriate, to connect with various groups to get relevant information and initiatives in their hands. Deliberate follow-on sharing of relevant conference material will expand our reach and the influence of our efforts to support off-highway enthusiasts.
Looking forward to a wonderful conference experience and the post-conference follow-up!