Getting approval to attend a conference can be tough, especially when budgets are tight. You may have to develop a proposal to
show the value of the conference. But once you’ve obtained approval to attend, how do you ensure you get the greatest return on investment? Follow these ten strategies to make the most of your time at SchoolDude University:
- Gain Visibility and Set Yourself Apart
Apply to be a presenter, facilitator, or moderator. Engage in the round tables. Participate during Q&A sessions. Use this opportunity to share your hard-earned knowledge.
(While speaker applications for SchoolDude University West have closed, we are always looking for great presenters for upcoming conferences and events. Let us know if you’re interested!)
- Build Stronger Relationships
You will be busy meeting new people at SchoolDude University, but don’t forget to dedicate some time to fostering the relationships you already have. Make it a priority to reconnect with someone you haven’t talked to in a while. You never know when you might need their guidance or insight on a problem and you’ll get much farther with a well-maintained relationship.
- Plan Ahead
Make a list of the people you want to meet and reach out to them before the conference. Plan to meet them for breakfast or during one of the networking breaks. Planning ahead also helps if you’re uncomfortable “working a room” by ensuring you always have someone lined up to talk to.
- Make a Schedule
We have several curriculum tracks at SchoolDude University, and often repeat our most popular
sessions. Take the time to build your agenda before the conference to ensure you are attending the sessions that are of most value to you and your school.
- Take Notes
And before leaving a session, take 30 seconds to review those notes. Make sure you recorded the key takeaways AND how you can apply them at your institution. Many times, our great ideas for applying the speaker’s advice are lost the moment we leave our seat.
- Connect with the Speakers
We’ve pulled from our more than 6,000 clients and 15 years in the business to bring you the very best speakers in education operations. At SchoolDude University, their collective knowledge is at your disposal. Come with questions. Raise your hand. Stay after to speak to them one-on-one. Not only will you be able to pick their brain on your current challenges, but maintaining your connection with them allows you to reach out for advice on a future obstacle.
Take advantage of the networking opportunities. We have all kinds of settings at SchoolDude University. Are you a social butterfly? You’ll love our evening receptions. Do you prefer more structured environments? Our round-tables are perfect for you. Does the word “networking” make you cringe? Not to worry! Review strategy #3 above—Plan Ahead.
- Make a Conscious Effort to Be Present
You decided to attend the conference for the opportunity to learn and connect with people one-on-one. Laptops and smartphones get in the way of both of those. Resist the urge to constantly check your email. If it can wait, let it!
- Review and Follow Up
Email those people you met at the conference. Follow up with the speaker you chatted with after his presentation. Reach out to that suggested contact. Review your notes on tips and tricks, and replicate that report you discovered in the
- Take Action
You learned a lot—new reporting, methodologies, strategies, skills. Don’t get too caught up in being back in the office that you forget to make a plan to implement those processes. Share your plan with your board to show your value and to keep you accountable. And don’t forget that our Legendary Support Team is here to help you whenever you need us along the way.
SchoolDude University is the world's only education operations conference. Join operations professionals and Campus Champions from around the world in San Diego, California October 10-14, 2015 to share ideas, experiences, and best practices. You will walk away with actionable steps you can implement right away to improve your team's efficiency, increase productivity, and influence the bottom dollar.
10 Ways to Make the Most Out of a Conference by Kate C. Farrar, Director of the AAUW Leadership Programs.