Some of my greatest take-away’s from attending Conferences have happened in the hallways, at the lunch tables, happy hours and spontaneous group dinners. Some of my greatest insights haven’t been so much what I have gained, but what I have given. But this only occurs if I’m intentional.
Several years ago, as I was preparing to attend a Learning & Development Conference, one of my dear friends asked what I most wanted to get out of the conference that year – besides the agenda, keynote speaker and “prepared learning”. It must have been the way she said it, since it caused me to pause and really consider what, beyond the agenda, was I most eager to learn? It forced me to think about what questions I needed answered – what did I need to hear, what did I want to learn, who did I need to ask for help?
I went into that Conference with a different mindset and it changed everything. I went in with 2 key questions:
- What do I most want to / need to learn right now?
- How can I contribute to others today?
Here is what I’ve come up with to help guide you through those two questions:
What do I most want to / need to learn right now?
Consider the other attendees, speakers and conference theme – be open to the rhythm and flow of the day. You might be surprised just where the one thing you need to learn shows up for you. Pay attention to what has heart and meaning and be centered in your attendance.
How can I contribute to others today?
So often we go into Conferences with an “it’s about me taking in the information” mentality and we forget that we are part of other’s experiences. We are part of the learning puzzle – sharing our trials, errors, successes, and lessons learned. We are part of their hallway, lunch, happy hour and elevator experience. All it takes is a moment to share something rather simple for you and profound for them.
Don’t predict where your learning will come from or the impact you will have on another attendee. Just be yourself, be intentional and enjoy the fun, crazy good creative energy of learning. After all, the purpose of a great conference is to propel us to a new way of thinking, doing and being. Show up whole and ready to give and receive.