At this time of year, people start planning which conferences they are going to attend. There are many things to consider, including value for money, learning opportunities, and the ability to network.
Conferences tend to fit into two categories:
- Large, general events focused on an industry, broad issue or profession (sometimes over more than one day), and;
- Targeted, niche events focused on a specific theme, aiming for a specialised audience
The larger conferences are great for a general overview on the important issues of the day. They tend to attract a varied audience and can be very useful for networking. At a more niche event, the learning element might be more useful, as you can find yourself in a room with your peers. This is still positive, but not if you are attending to look for new business leads!
Hitting the target
I tend to favour more targeted conferences as they help me to fill specific gaps in my knowledge. That said, working in construction related PR means that I also look for events that will develop both my skills and keep me informed about the latest trends in my specialist sector.
The latter is an important point. Understanding what is happening at an industry level is an essential part of having a strategic role. It helps to identify possible issues so that you can discuss potential implications with clients or businesses.
It is for this reason that the CIPR has a range of sector and regional groups. As well as bringing like-minded professionals together, it allows for more bespoke events focused on relevant issues, and offers a way of sharing examples of best practice aligned with member interests.
For these groups to work successfully, they need to be part of the industries they represent, bridging the gap between members and relevant sector organisations.
It is why CAPSIG has partnered with the Marketing in Construction Summit to offer an exclusive delegate rate. The hope is that members can benefit from this conference that will bring the sector’s PR and marketing professionals together to discuss their challenges and potential solutions.
Five conference tips
Once you have decided on the right conference to attend, these tips will help you get the most from attending:
- Book early: most conferences offer early-bird rates or special packages
- Write an itinerary: review the programme and organise your diary. This is essential for larger conferences with multiple streams
- Have a target list: if you want to network, identify those people in advance. Even better, arrange meetings
- Take lots of notes: with many sessions in the day, it is important to keep on top of your notes. Live-tweeting your thoughts and observations during the event provides a good source of information to reflect on when you’re back in the office
- Share your learnings: when you get back to the office, share your thoughts on the conference with your colleagues so that the invested time and money offers a wider benefit
Photo by The Climate Reality Project, via Unsplash