I received a copy of Inc. Magazine recently and the promotional cover immediately caught my attention. “Become a better leader in just two days”. Really? Two days? That's a lot to expect from one short conference.
Conferences like the Leadership Forum offer an opportunity for a leader to step back from day-to-day responsibilities. During that brief time away, leaders can meet other like-minded leaders and build relationships. Attending also enables us to think, assess, learn and be creative.
Leading Yourself First
I attend conferences based on the entrepreneurial thought leaders who organize them, the scheduled speakers and others I know will be attending that I already know or want to meet. I attend conferences to learn new skills, to meet like-minded entrepreneurs, build relationships, and to create the opportunity to think in new ways.
I have attended two to three conferences each year for the past three years. I plan to do at least that number in the years to come.
“The idea we will
just two days
I do this at my personal expense, as the conferences I attend are not always directly related to my work with Rev1 Ventures and our clients. Even so, for each conference I attend, I bring back new knowledge and connections that make it possible to serve our clients better.
One of my virtual mentors encourages me to invest 10% of my annual revenues in self-improvement. He has done so himself for years and has reached a level of success that few will reach. I'm not quite there yet, but every dollar I spend on self-improvement is my best investment.
Every conference I have invested in has brought new friends, fresh ideas, and created new opportunities. My world expands as a result of my self-investment.
The idea we will emerge a better leader in just two days or a better anything over the course of a conference is enticing; we crave instant opportunity, instant improvement, and instant results. The reality is that “instant” takes time and focused effort, especially in the areas of personal growth and leadership.
If you expect to become a better leader “in just two days”, it will take planning, effort, and follow-up. In other words, go prepared. Really prepared.
Maximize Your Investment
So, how do you adequately prepare to optimize a conference, and emerge a better leader or create new opportunities in just two days?
I follow the lead of another virtual mentor, Ray Edwards.
Ray has an excellent podcast with his a top-notch approach for maximizing your conference results. Podcast #47 is called Get the Most Out of Any Conference.
Ray's list has nearly 50 action items for amplifying your opportunities to learn and connect. It is divided into three sections of activities: before, during and after. It is the preparation that makes maximizing your investment during the conference possible, and the after conference follow-ups productive.
Examples from Ray's list include: “Know your criteria for success”; “Target list of people you want to meet”; “Prepare your elevator speech”; “Introduce people to one another”; and others that make preparing for and attending a conference an investment rather just time away from the office.
I use Ray's list whether I am “just attending” or speaking and attending a conference.
Implement Ray's best practices and you'll go to conferences better prepared and, as a result, maximize your conference investment. I know I have.
For example, at a conference I attended last year, I knew one of my favorite thought leaders would be there. I went planning to meet him and discuss specific aspects of his work. We've since become friends and may collaborate on future projects.
Intentionally Become a Better Leader
I anticipate becoming a better leader in just one day, at every conference I attend as a result of intentional effort during the weeks leading up to the conference and the days following the conference.
I plan to attend 1-2 more conferences this year and will utilize Ray's list for each event. I take personal responsibility to make the most of my investment in each conference I attend.
You can expect a lot from one short conference – if you put the effort into it before, during and after the event.
What secrets do you have for leveraging a conference investment to become a better leader in just two days?