Get the Most Out of Any Conference

Each month, I team up with Linda Laitala of Raven Performance Group to offer a free workshop that helps business owners and professionals stay up-to-date on the latest marketing, sales and business tools. Workshops and conferences, like those offered through our Central Minnesota Small Business Academy, are most valuable when you’re prepared to learn and ready to apply the material.

As Linda and I get ready for the CMSBA’s first workshop, I think it’s the perfect time to share five easy tricks to help you get the most out of any workshop or conference.

#1 Set aside extra time. When you mark a workshop on your calendar, set aside extra time to implement what you will learn. Let’s think back to school for a moment. If you were like me, you made time to do homework because a teacher gave you a due date that made the assignment a priority in your schedule. Even though you’re an adult now, you still have homework. And you are solely responsible for prioritizing what you learn. When you set extra time aside before the workshop, you’re prioritizing the improvements you plan to make to your business, your life or both. I recommend scheduling fifteen minutes for every hour of the workshop.

#2 Take notes. When you write down what you hear, you use a different part of your brain to process the information. For this reason, taking notes helps you retain more information. You don’t need to write down every word. However, you should make note of key takeaways. Before the workshop, ask yourself, “Why am I going to this training?” Once you know your “why”, you will be able to recognize the takeaways that are most relevant to you and your business. Also, be sure to write down any action steps you need to take after the workshop.

#3 Ask questions. If you have a question and the opportunity, you should ask it. You are probably not the only person in the room with that question.

#4 Use your tech now and save time later. Presenters often make helpful recommendations, including websites where you can find relevant content, books you should read and more. If you have your laptop in tow, look up the website and bookmark it, add the book on your book app or find the presenter on LinkedIn to connect. If you jot down these tasks to do later, you might forget about or never get around to them.

#5 Build relationships. Workshops are great opportunities to build new relationships and strengthen current ones. Don’t sit by yourself; meet new people. This could be the perfect time to mentor someone who is new to the industry or even find a mentor for yourself.

Workshops serve an important purpose for professionals: they inspire and challenge us to continually improve ourselves and our businesses. That’s why Linda and I help bring industry leaders from across Minnesota to the Central Minnesota Small Business Academy every month. But in order for attendees to realize the most value from these workshops, or any training, they must learn, participate and actively implement.

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