How to Maximize the Benefits of Attending a Conference

Click here to be kept up to date about Insurance Nerds Day 2019 in Dallas as information becomes available!

 

What a great time I had at Nerds Day!  While I was there it got me thinking about the benefits of attending conferences.  These are my musings from my plane ride home which are not intended to be a complete list of benefits for attending a conference nor do they all apply to this particular conference (which was amazing!).

To gain the most out of a conference, it is helpful to understand the schedule.  Coordinate your travel time to attend the largest number of valued events. Many conferences have some type of kick off event the night before or a going-away event at the end.  These are great events to start to meet people that you may see throughout the conference or to bounce some final ideas off of as you prepare to depart.

There are two mistakes that I see people make at these social events.  The first is skipping them completely. Having a couple of drinks with some new faces or just meeting a few people will help you ease into the conference and give you some relationships to build on whether it is someone to sit with during a session or at lunch or someone that you may want to collaborate on some ideas after the event.  It is easy to find value in establishing some new relationships early on. At the end of the conference, the final event is great to make sure that you have contact information for your new friends and discuss some ideas that you are thinking of implementing. The second mistake that I see people make at these events is having a little too much fun.  Especially the first night; don’t enjoy yourself so much that the night is a blur or you don’t take advantage of building some strong relationships. At the end, if it’s more of a national convention, make sure you get on your plane home!

Don’t be this polar bear the next morning!

 

Relationships and the social aspect of these events is vital to you feeling that the conference had value.  While good content can help you learn a lot, without a shared experience with others, it is often hard to put the information into context.  You are also missing a tremendous opportunity to meet new people within your state or throughout the country. There are typically people that have been in the business longer than you, about an equal amount of time, and those that are newer into the business.  Talking with those that have been in the industry for awhile can give you a better understanding of how the industry has developed over the years and some ideas that have been tried and have worked or haven’t worked for various reasons. Talking to your peers typically gives you a better understanding of how others that are in a similar position as you approach their tasks and opportunities.  For those that are newer into the industry, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are continuing to pass along information that will keep the industry strong. In all cases, you are not just finding people to hang out with at the conference, but people that you can stay in touch with for various reasons moving forward. You can probably learn more from interacting with the attendees as most conferences that you will learn in the sessions.  Not that the sessions don’t have value, but the sheer amount of conversations that you can have focused on what you want to discuss (never mind that these relationships are only starting at this point) well outweigh the specified expertise driven at a session. Be sure to use this opportunity to talk about new ideas, discuss challenges and successes and identify other strong industry groups and associations you can join. Also, talk about industry vendors (hint: call APP today!) and where they have helped or where they have failed.

I saved the most obvious value of attending a conference for the end.  Those putting on a conference go to a lot of effort to make sure that they are bringing in good, quality speakers.  Whether this is to help people with CEUs and more insurance focused information or we are focused more on marketing, sales, and other operational items, attending the most sessions that you can on the topics that are most pressing to your agency is vital to successfully attending a conference.  Make sure that you engage in the discussion as well. Ask questions, offer up opinions and stories, and offer up support and concerns (where appropriate) on the topics at hand. If it isn’t a session where participation is warranted or you don’t like to engage in that format, be sure to pay attention and take notes.  Bring up your questions afterwards. Or find the speaker later that night and buy them a drink and ask your questions then! Interacting with the speakers after you’ve attended their session can often drive more knowledge than you gained during the official session.

So have fun, but focus on your growth.  See you all next year in Dallas!

 

Click here to be kept up to date about Insurance Nerds Day 2019 in Dallas as information becomes available!

About David Siekman

Dave's career in the insurance field began in 1999 as a customer service representative for Plymouth Rock Assurance in Boston. Siekman has held his Massachusetts Property & Casualty Producers license since 2005. In 2013, he was a finalist for the NetVu Automation Excellence award. He's now a Performance Specialist at Agency Performance Partners.

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