by Erin Dolan, MCE Customer Relationship Manager
People have different objectives when attending industry tradeshows and conferences. Whether it’s networking, marketing, or developing new business, one thing is certain: It’s always a learning opportunity. I was lucky enough to recently attend PCMA’s 2023 Convening Leaders conference in Columbus, Ohio.
Once I got over the weird feeling of being the attendee instead of the planner, I quickly got the hang of things and set out to pack in as much as possible in three days. In addition to the networking parties and social activities, the event included fabulous keynote presentations, sessions, and the District (aka the exhibit hall). There was a clear, dedicated attempt to promote sustainability. It was evident not only in session content but in tangible ways such as trash disposal during food functions and swag made from recycled materials.
During the Social Listening + AI = Deep Personalization session, I learned two somewhat related strategies for analyzing data: 1) Pay close attention to survey results from participants within the student or early career age demographic. These people represent the future. 2) It’s also helpful to review and analyze those who did not attend the event. If you use software that identifies those who declined or did not click through various advertisements, it’s important to understand why and/or who is not interested in the event. Analyzing only those who actually attend can limit growth.
Many sessions offered valuable advice that will undoubtedly support and improve everyday work processes, especially those related to marketing or contracting. Other, more subjective takeaways included advice from keynote speaker – Adam Grant, Organizational Psychologist at Wharton: Instead of the traditional network of supportive colleagues and friends, create a “challenge network.” Often people surround themselves with those who “agree only.” Seek out those persons who challenge your ideas. This type of critique will allow you to expand your thought processes and consider opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise.
In summary, I’m glad I went. I learned a lot, made new connections, and strengthened some old ones. Not to mention I had a lot of fun.