Tips for Choosing a Conference and Preparing to Attend

I just read the Quirks conference tips and thought it was helpful for ideas when attending a conference. But what about before you go? As all those email invites hit our inbox each month, how do you decide which one(s) you should attend?

Remember you can attend conferences for many reasons: learning more about current priorities, identifying new methods and opportunities that directly relate and can be incorporated into your current or next, understanding the big picture (trends/strategy/industry changes), sharing your own problems and solutions, and networking. There are some awesome conferences out there that can fulfill these needs!

First check out the conference topic, timing, location, and last but certainly not least, the cost! That’s a given, but if it’s a 1 day conference located across the country, it may rarely be worth your time unless you can combine it with other travel needs (though January conferences in Florida rarely lack for attendees from the snowy states!). Group conference options into quarters and take into account what your focus and priorities may be during that time.

Next, review the schedule to make sure the conference title matches the content. And note the speakers. Are they your current peers or clients? Have you heard them before? Is there enough content that you can learn new information? Do the topics excite you and will they help you take action when you return to the real world?

Last, ASK…your colleagues, clients, LinkedIn network, etc. Who has been? Was it worthwhile? What was lacking? What worked?

Once you decide to attend, prepare a bit ahead of time and think about how you’ll spend each day and which key speakers you don’t want to miss. The importance of getting to an attention-grabbing session early is so true, as many popular speakers are beyond SRO and have crowds spilling out the door. Take notes that might interest your colleagues and share them when you return, ideally with ideas for actionable next steps.

Enjoy the camaraderie and fun of a conference but remember, your time is valuable – make it work for you! And if you can’t make a great event, find someone you trust who can attend and share important details with you afterwards!

Observations from IIeX – Helping Clients Through MR Evolution

I’ve been back from IIeX for a few days now and here are some lasting impressions I came away with:

This year’s event was touted as The Insight Innovation Exchange.  And truly keeping with the theme, what struck me as interesting was how drastically the players at the insights table have changed over the past several years.  Communispace’s Diane Hessan observed that she never would have been invited to a conference like this 5 years ago because the firm’s work wasn’t considered research. Does Communispaces acceptance explain the “pushing the research boundary” presenters I encountered – like the ones who passively monitor Twitter data.  Is that within the realm of research and insights?

I think yes, and I embrace the spirit of the event which asks us all – whether firm or client – to challenge our notions about research and how meaningful discoveries are made.  As client guides through the evolving landscape of MR, we need to encourage them to think differently about consumer interactions and dialogues.  Our role is to lead them to approaches that address their challenges from atypical perspectives – factoring in completely new technologies and techniques, such as neuromonitoring, facial recognition, and more.  This sentiment was echoed by several presenters.

Our own presentation focused on changing the dialogue.  In our case, we illustrated how we brought TOGETHER doctors and patients in one forum, when typically these groups are separated, and the powerful, positive impact that has on the patient/provider relationship. Can we change it for the better? Yes! (For more info on that, click here.)

But while I’m all for innovation (after all, that’s BuzzBack’s reason for being), it can’t be innovation for innovation’s sake.  At the end of the day, no matter how ‘cool’ or creative the insights supplier, the challenge remains very simple: making sure we are delivering methods of meaning and value.  And then our job is to help clients understand where these novelties fit in their world, what the approach brings, what it delivers – especially if it’s radically different to what they did before.