When we attend conferences, we are often encouraged to “take home 3 good ideas and implement them.” If we do that, we are told, the conference will have been of high value.
Focusing on the content to gather up 3 good ideas is fine for the short term. If the presenters and the content are of good quality, we usually can come up with 3 ideas of consequence. The problem is that content can sometimes be time limited. The ideas – the strategies or tactics – may have a short lifespan. The environment changes and so can the longer term value of the content.
Here’s another thought about how to enhance the value of conferences: set a goal to meet and begin relationships with 3 successful professionals and/or colleagues. These may be conference presenters or conference attendees.
At breaks during most conferences people run for the door to text, return emails and calls. Resist that urge. Stay in the moment of the conference. Use the opportunity to follow-up with a presenter or continue a conversation with a fellow participant. Exchange cards and make the commitment to follow-up after the conference.
If the conference covers meal times, plan to eat every meal with someone with whom you wish to get to know better. In other words, purposefully use the opportunity to broaden your web of perspectives and influences.
Your long-term personal and professional growth will depend far more on your relationships with mentors, coaches, and other successful professionals and colleagues than it will on the 3 ideas you brought home to implement.