Love your job but feel like you work in a silo? Feel disconnected from your industry or profession? Do stacks of outdated trade journals litter your office? Then get thee to an industry or professional development conference!
Team BEM just returned from the Carolinas Healthcare and Public Relations Marketing Society (CHPRMS) annual conference at Asheville’s venerable Grove Park Inn. BEM staffers not only attended this unforgettable conference but also helped make it happen as the conference’s official brand and message team! We created the conference theme (Healthcare through the Looking Glass), designed the various collateral and strutted around as Wallie the walrus, the society’s official brand mascot (yah, kinda’ creepy but, hey, we’ve accepted the invitation to do it again next year.)
We had a BLAST, learned a lot and made some great connections, all of which got us thinking about the importance of these settings. Below, we offer up our Top 5 conference takeaways, including some photos. We hope they inform and amuse, while inspiring you to attend your own industry or professional development conference!
You can’t do business like this over the phone – There’s still no substitute for face-to-face business networking. The firm handshake, the eye contact, even the exchange of that old relic the business card. Team BEM exceeded its wildest expectations in this department. Interacting with folks in your industry and/or pitching a product/service sharpens you. It gets you back on top of your game and, most important, it gets people around you cheering.
Admiring the competition – Conference settings allow you to see the scope of your industry and those who operate in it. You get to see really cool stuff and talk to really cool people. Seeing the competition helps you appreciate where you are and where you want to be.
My pain is your pain – When people gather, they share experiences and challenges. Conferences are no different. Our team learned pretty quick that the difficulties our creative agency faces are the same faced at other creative agencies. Having someone validate your experience and, reciprocally, validating others’ experiences, empowers.
Perspective – New environments full of like-minded folks can often give rise to new ideas or help supplement existing ones. Simply being in a spacious, beautiful and plush place – often the MO of most conferences – sometimes makes for the right conditions to connect otherwise elusive dots.
Team Bonding – Undeniably Team BEM’s biggest conference win. And probably always will be. Not that you have to take colleagues or co-workers with you (in fact, you may be sprinting to the door alone, having changed your contact info.), but I will say that hanging out with co-workers in a non-office setting allows you to experience them in a way that actually pays big dividends back at the office.