There are many events that may be of interest to the savvy assistant. But how do PAs, EAs and VAs get the most value from them?
Here are 10 tips to help.
Make a note of these next time you’re looking at a conference, expo, trade fair, networking or other event to attend.
1. Be Selective
Attending an event in person requires time. There’s stuff to do before, getting there and back, and follow-up activity to manage.
Before you register or book your ticket, consider whether the event is going to be a highly valuable use of your time.
Is it simply a ‘nice to go’? Or does it offer something essential to your role, career or business?
If you’re unsure, check it against your goals and objectives. Does it match with any of those? Does the event fall under one or more of your priorities?
Ask around and see if any other professional assistants have been to the event. See what they say about it and the value of going.
2. Plan Your Day
Once you’ve registered or booked your ticket, it’s time to start planning for the event.
Work out your travel arrangements and times. The earlier you sort this, the better the likely deals on fares.
Check out the event website for the program schedule. Do you have to book any talks, presentations or forums in advance? If so, get yourself a seat early.
Take a look at what else is happening on the day, or over the days, of the event. Are there any stands or exhibits of particular interest to you? Are there any structured networking opportunities?
Planning your time will help you to get the maximum value out of being there – and avoid missing something important.
3. Apps and Hashtags
Some events may have an associated app. If so, add it to your smartphone.
You may find it has additional information, special bonuses or the facility to network or chat more proactively.
It can also be worth following the #hashtag of the event. It can be informative and fun. Yet another way to connect with people and gather up useful stuff.
Whether it’s a conference, expo or trade event, it’s a great opportunity for the savvy assistant to meet people.
Discover new contacts, build relationships, talk with experts, share ideas and create fresh social media connections. Who knows, you might even get some business out of a conversation.
Before the event, think about what you want to get out of any networking opportunities that arise.
If you have business cards, take them. They may seem a bit ‘old school’ but many exhibitors still love having yours for entry into their prize draws or competitions.
5. Visit Exhibitors
A bit of planning can help to ensure you see all the stands and organisations which interest you.
Use the venue map to help you work out where your favourite exhibitors are within the building. You may be surprised how large the exhibition space is – and how many floors it can be spread over.
Chat to people. Start conversations. Ask ‘What do you do?’ or ‘Can you tell me briefly about your product or service?’ It’s a great way to gather information and make new connections.
6. Take Notes
Take a notebook and pen with you. Or use a tablet or smartphone to record things.
It’s rare for someone to be able to remember everything they are told or see during the day. Keeping notes will give you something to refer to after the event.
You’ll find this most useful when listening to talks or presentations. You might also want to jot down any ‘to do’ items as you go, too.
7. Take Photos or Video
Another good way to record your day or something you’ve seen is to take photographs.
Smartphones tend to have pretty good cameras on them these days.
Do check what the event rules are on photography (and video recording). There may be restrictions. Contact the organisers if anything is unclear before you go.
You could see a stand or display that looks amazing. There could be a product you’d like to get some photos of. There could be a ‘selfie’ opportunity with a celebrity or VIP. You could film some short video clips for social media.
Take any kind of camera and be prepared to click or tap away a few pictures.
8. Stay Hydrated
Event programmes can make for long hours in a seat or on your feet. You’re going to need your energy to stay fresh through the day.
Most importantly, ensure you drink enough water. If you have a small reusable water bottle, take it along.
Don’t overdo it on the coffee and avoid eating ‘on the run’. Whether you’re a grazer or a lunch-lover, enjoy some healthier food if you can. It’ll help you get through the day.
9. Make an Action List
The event is not just about what happens on the day.
If you’ve made new connections and exchanged business cards, you’ll want to drop them an email afterwards – to say how much you enjoyed meeting them at the show and to start nurturing that relationship.
There might be an organisation to research. A product or service to explore further. A proposal or sales brochure to send somebody.
Make a list as you go. This way you’ll remember ALL the things to do on your return to home or office.
10. Confirm CPD Points or Hours
With some events, attendance and participation may qualify for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Hours or Points.
These accreditations can be used to demonstrate training and learning related to a specific subject.
Attending conference sessions, expert seminars or online training may count towards your CPD. Check before you go and make sure you don’t miss out.
For example, I’m going to be one of the guest expert presenters at next week’s The PA Show and the website talks about CPD opportunities for attendees.
Will you be going? If so, do stop by my stand D74P to say hello. And, yes, bring your business cards. There’s a prize draw on both the 8th and 9th of March.
Remember my top 10 tips before you go.