Conferences and shows are energetic, exciting and incredibly valuable for making new connections and keeping abreast of the latest trends and developments.
We already know that events are highly beneficial to our practice, but how can we really maximise what we get out of attending and start putting plans into action?
Ahead of the Learning Technologies Conference and Exhibition 2022, here are our five top tips to help you make the most of your experience (not including all the branded bags stuffed with cool freebies).
1. Use the relevant social media hashtags
Social media is a powerful tool for sharing insights and opinions, making connections and engaging in interesting conversations with like-minded people in L&D. While we can’t be in every session at the same time, we can certainly use the correct hashtags to catch up on insights from any sessions you’ve missed and to post your own thoughts on the ones you attended.
Quoting someone or sharing a photo from a great talk or seminar? Hashtag it with the relevant show hashtag (e.g. for the Learning Technologies event, this is #LTUK22).
Want to find out what others thought of the same session? Search that same hashtag. You’ll usually have specific hashtags attributed to individual talks if you’re searching for something specific. It’s your very own live stream of relevant content at your fingertips.
2. Make connections and grow your L&D network
One thing you’ve likely noticed with the L&D community is that it’s supportive and always open to sharing ideas. You will likely have many interesting conversations with other learning professionals, whether that’s at a seminar, an exhibitor stand or during one of the informal meet-up events that often take place around the event.
While conversations are fresh in your mind, don’t be afraid to send personalised Linkedin requests or start following new connections on Twitter. If you particularly enjoyed your chat with someone, send them a message after the event to remind them of the things you talked about, how much you valued the conversation and that you’d like to stay in touch.
A little bit of personalisation goes a long way in making meaningful connections that could lead to working together or sharing best practice in the future.
3. Prepare a checklist for product demos
The exhibition hall is exciting, busy and, at times, a little overwhelming. If you’re looking to source a learning management system (LMS), learning experience platform (LXP) or any other learning system, it’s hard to know which one is right when everybody is trying to pitch the latest features.
As impressive-sounding as a vendor’s feature list may sound, you need to ensure that what they are offering not only meets all your unique requirements but is also based on sound digital pedagogy. Remember, you need to put learning first and use technology as your enabler. Your organisational objectives will help you decide what you need the technology to do.
To help you prepare all the right questions before engaging with vendors, we recommend downloading your free ‘Guide to sourcing a learning system’, complete with pull-out sections and checklists to take with you to the event.
Think about what you want your business to achieve. The learning should be aligned to business objectives, and the right supplier will have the right analytics, and the right customer success support to align the learning to tangible outputs.
4. Write up your notes
Often when attending seminars and talks, you might end up scribbling quick points shorthand or tapping a jumble of type-cluttered words into your laptop. This might not be a problem while the content is fresh in your mind, but your points may not be clear when referring to them weeks or months down the line.
As soon as you get the chance (perhaps when back at your hotel room or on the train), type up your notes in full and expand on any points that need further detail. This is especially important if you plan on presenting your findings to people in the organisation who were unable to attend the event.
5. Update your colleagues
Due to budget constraints and practicality, not everyone who might have benefitted from the event will have got the chance to attend. It’s now down to you to share your newfound knowledge with the relevant people, whether that’s via a presentation, a bulletin update or informal discussion.
If you’re feeling particularly generous, you could share your free goodies as well as your knowledge, too. In summary… L&D events are fast-paced, exciting and usually leave you eager to find the next one soon. By making the most of relevant hashtags, building connections, preparing for demos and keeping your notes organised, you can get the best out of your experience every time.
We’d love to hear about your experience while you’re there. If you’re heading to the Learning Technologies Conference and Exhibition 2022, be sure to stop by at Stand E65 and tell us all about it!