The sad truth is that events like Techshow are a complete waste of time for many of the attendees. So why do I say most of these are a waste of time? And who is to blame? It sure isn’t the event, they pack an amazing amount of value, as much as they possibly can, in every nook and cranny. The problem lies with the attendees. I’m going to share 3 of the most common mistakes conference attendees are guilty of doing which ensure their time is completely wasted.
- Not wrapping up loose ends before leaving.
It is far too common to see attendees constantly stepping out to answer phone calls or replying to emails while they are sitting in on presentations. And waiting until a break to return calls, although more polite, still will be robbing you of valuable time since the in-between time provides some of the most valuable opportunities to you at conferences. How can you minimize this?
- The week before leaving, make a list of the activities that you need to wrap up prior to leaving. All the loose ends. Either complete these tasks or delegate them to someone on your team. This will drastically reduce the amount of interruptions.
- Treat your time at Techshow as if you are on vacation, unreachable, unless it’s a dire emergency. Teach this to your staff: “If you could not reach me, what would you do?” Most of the time, they can come up with the right answer on their own and therefore handle many things without involving you. This will allow your mind to be present and allow to focus.
- Not having any outcomes set before getting there.
Most people show up to the event, and at best, have the presentations they want to attend highlighted. I don’t think that is enough. You need to think about what are you looking to learn from each presentation, specifically?
Write this question down and answer it before going to Techshow: ” What’s the single most important question that if you got an answer to it would make your entire trip worthwhile?”
At a minimum, do this high level for the entire event. Get feedback from other people on your staff. What are the biggest challenges your firm is facing that, if resolved, would make the biggest impact?
Once you’ve completed this step, for extra bonus get more specific. What would happen if you answered that question for each presentation you plan on attending? What if you answered that question before going to the Taste of Techshow dinner? What if you answered that question before walking into the Exhibitor Hall? Instead of just looking for the best pens and coolest freebies you can find. Instead of just walking around aimlessly, like walking around Costco without a shopping list. Do you think you would get more value out of the exhibitors if you answered this question ahead of time? Absolutely!
What about your peers or friends you want to connect with? Who is the one person you want to make sure to speak to and why? Who is the one vendor you want to meet with and why? Maybe a vendor you currently use or maybe a new solution your firm is currently missing.
So, set some specific outcomes BEFORE going to Techshow.
- Not making friends. Don’t be a hermit.
I believe very strongly that far more than 50% of the value, tips and ideas you can gain from conferences should come from the interactions you have outside of the presentations. Follow-up questions with presenters, breaks between talks, going to the Taste of Techshow dinners, the Welcome Reception, the Lunch N’ Learn sessions, aka networking. These are all opportunities setup by the ABA Techshow Planning Board to facilitate interacting with your peers. If you’ve attended before, chances are you’ve know some people. If it’s your 1st or 2nd time and your don’t yet know anyone attending, make it a point to attend these social events. You’ll meet people, make new friends and I promise some of these connections will prove to be immensely valuable over the years as they often turn into lifetime relationships. One of the things I look forward to the most at ABA Techshow is seeing and spending time with many the friends I have made over the years.
To wrap up, with some preparation ahead of time. Commit to yourself that you will squeeze every little bit of juice of value out of ABA Techshow. Go ahead and block off a few hours between now and Techshow to do these things and I promise you will take away far more than if you repeat the top 3 most common mistakes conference attendees are guilty of doing which ensure their time is completely wasted.
Tom Lambotte is CEO of GlobalMacIT, the only company in the world that specializes in providing IT support to Mac-based law firms. His methods are based on close to a decade of research, testing and real-world refinement of Best Practices, working directly with Mac-based law firms and firms switching from PC to Mac, across the country and around the world. Tom is the author of Hassle Free Mac IT Support for Law Firms and Legal Boost: Big Profits Through an IT Transformation. He is a highly sought after speaker at national events such as the ABA Techshow and MILOfest, a Mac Lovin’ Lawyers Event. Order a complimentary copy of his book, Hassle Free Mac IT Support for Law Firms here: http://www.globalmacit.com/book/.