Make the most of meetings
How many conferences do you attend? Just in this last month Radish Systems attended five conferences or trade shows around the country as we move beyond stealth mode, gear up for a public announcement, and begin to talk about our product ChoiceViewTM on the street. Throughout the year, I attend dozens and dozens more. Here are a few highlights of the best conferences along with practical pointers on how you can get the most out of these opportunities.
What Makes a Great Conference?
It depends on your goals. Do you want to:
• make helpful connections and build relationships,
• learn something new,
• gain visibility and be seen in at the proper places,
• contribute to others by sharing your experiences and products,
• get inspired and recharged, or what?
Clarify your objectives and hold that purpose in your mind as you work the event. Determine apriori if a certain forum will help you achieve these objectives or not. With smaller budgets in tight economic times, you must say NO to many and YES to the best forums.
Highlights from the Best:
Defrag conference : Don’t miss the 2010 conference which is coming soon — 11/17-18 in Denver, CO. The 2009 conference was amazing. Read my review of Defrag 2009 including “Strategies that Leverage Social” which was published in the Boulder County Business Report and learn why you should be there. The biggest ah-ha was ‘Tuning into the Back Channel.’ Here’s what others are saying:
• “Defrag attracts an amazing group of people. The discussion is thoughtful and deep.”
• “Defrag is two very intense days of some of the smartest and thought provoking thinking about the use and impact of social information processing today.”
The result for Radish Systems: we ignited and prioritized our social media marketing strategy, met a possible investor, and decided, after talking to another CEO who was doing this successfully, to launch our advisory council which now has 10 helpful executives.
Glue conference (http://www.gluecon.com/2010/) -It introduced Radish to cloud computing, the key players in this space, and important considerations when moving into the cloud. Wikipedia.com says, “Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, like the electricity grid. Typical cloud computing providers deliver common business applications online that are accessed from another Web service or software like a Web browser, while the software and data are stored on servers. The major cloud service providers include Salesforce, Amazon and Google.” There are also a wide range of other specialized, perhaps smaller cloud service providers.
The best Glue educational session was by Troy Davis of CloudVox on “Pricing an API Sucks: Here’s What We Did.” His bottom line: don’t overanalyze how to price your service – keep it simple. Quickly put something out there and let the market give you feedback.
The result for Radish Systems: we simplified ChoiceView pricing and met / built a relationship with the right specialized cloud service provider that offers telecom-related cloud computing. Super valuable!
Fortune Gazelles Growth Summit (www.gazelles.com) brought together 400+ executives for the best learning event of the year to stimulate corporate growth. This year Liz Wiseman, Former VP Oracle University, talked about her new book, Multipliers: How The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. Leaders who are multipliers empower people by asking questions rather than barking orders. In contrast, diminishers micro-manage and leave people feeling disempowered. What is your leadership style?
The result for Radish System: we introduced ChoiceView on the floor and found some hot prospects, revisited our rhythm of internal meetings and have moved to daily short huddles, and are leading by asking more questions.
I could go on and on. Many of the conferences we participated in exceeded our expectations. What about yours?
Practical Pointers on Best Practices for Conferences.
1. Be clear on your objectives. Say no to some meetings and shows.
2. Prepare and be open to the possibilities. Your greatest learnings/contacts may be different than you preconceive.
3. Make good connections — look for quality not quantity.
4. Do your follow-up. Synthesize your learnings – what are the 1-3 things you will do as a result of this event? The connections made at a conference are worthless unless you reconnect afterwards and stay in touch. Use LinkedIn or Facebook.
5. Be kind to yourself afterwards. To work a conference effectively, it takes tremendous energy. Don’t overbook your schedule on the day you return.
Conclusion. Conferences can help you and your firm attain results. Know what you are trying to achieve, choose the right forums, and then have fun turning them in to rewarding experiences.