Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Cracking The Conference Code- Beyond Suits and Ties

Ironically, the only thing constant about life is change. The clock keeps ticking. The most successful and powerful empires at one time are conquered as the new ones take charge. You might be at the top of your academics or career path for the time being, but in order to stay put, you need to keep yourself constantly updated with the latest in your field. The web holds a large amount of knowledge and most of us fail to use this precisely to our benefit. From online courses that require payment to free webinars and tutorials, it is quite a lot to take in and what's even harder is to filter out that which is relevant to you. 

Interaction is a crucial key to survival. History has presented us with thousands of examples like the Barter trade system where commodities were exchanged in order to meet the needs of different people. Whether your's is a corporate world or a research lab, you will definitely need to exchange ideas. The Google Impact Challenge is an example of how fresh and innovative ideas can change lives with the help of technology but only when they are effectively communicated and shared with the world. One of the reasons why schools are preferred over homeschooling lies in this interaction. When like-minded people learn or work together they become better at critical thinking, problem-solving and not to mention the personal and character development that is achieved in the process.

Conferences are important as they allow discussion on important updates in different fields. Presentations made at conferences are aimed at enlightening people about a recent discovery or a new tool that could make lives easier. Seeing thousands of abstract ideas in front of you and later hearing about the latest topics of debates in your field is bound to trigger the brain more than what could be accomplished while working in isolation. The reason this blog post is aimed towards conferences rather than short seminars/meeting is because the latter is restricted in time and scope. Each year there are hundreds of conferences held across the globe covering various topics. There are those related to blogging too! Most conferences last 2-3days and they are the perfect getaways. It would be taking a break from your work while still learning something. And let's admit it, half of the things you learn at college would not have practical application. However, at a conference, everything is practical.

Five Reasons You Need To Attend That Conference:

1.Stay Smart: Like I mentioned in the introduction of this blog post you need to be on top of your game, at all times. Conferences will focus on helping you achieve that by including presentations and discussions on the current updates. Even the smartest of the physicians need to constantly do their homework as many new therapies are introduced daily and replace the old methods. The active participation that comes with conferences will trigger your brain to ponder on the hot topics in your field and the next time you hear it being discussed over coffee, you will have a lot to say which will impress your fellow colleagues and your bosses alike.

2.Networking: I cannot stress this point enough. Conferences have reputed Professors and people from the industry in attendance for sessions and discussions. It is crucial to take note of them if you desire to work with them in the future. It could be a collaboration between businesses or a group research project but it would all start at the conference when one of you would realize that your topic of interest is not very different. Even if it is different, there is such a thing called as multidisciplinary projects and you never know when your idea would be a game changer in someone's project.

Note: Don't be afraid and think your concepts would be stolen and not participate at all. If needed take measures to protect your work prior to presentation.

3.Inspiration: Daily routine can get monotonous especially when you are surrounded by the same people in the same area. Exposure to new faces, ideas, and a new location all together could be the solution to that problem that you have been stuck on for so long. Moreover, you could meet experts at a conference or even some sales person at an exhibition that would be more than willing to share their expertise and help you with your technical problem. Being with like minded people will surely get your brain juices flowing again and give you the much-needed dose of inspiration.

4.Self Investment: Conferences could prove to be an expensive investment when matters like traveling, accommodation, food and most importantly the conference fee itself are brought into the picture. This investment would pay off as it would equip you with soft skills and sharpen your communication, presentation, public speaking etc. Just make sure that you choose the right conference to attend. Do your homework on the speakers, presenters and make the most out of it!

5.Travel and Explore: Conferences are usually based on fun locations. The conference website would normally have a list of places of interest nearby the venue that you could explore before or after the conference. This would be perfect if you travel with your friends or involve the new acquaintances you have made at the conference. It would leave you with wonderful memories to last you a lifetime.

As I enter the final year of college, I have managed to attend one conference so far where I got the opportunity to make a presentation. The conference had about 700 guests and it turned out to be a memorable experience. It taught me that presentations that were followed by questions from the audience and answers by the author, would stick with you far more than anything you read online. 

I would like to add that a certificate for attending the conference has zero value in my opinion and experience (from sourcing in Human Resources). A mention of the conference in your resume might get you an interview but having no idea of what went on in the conference will clearly leave you embarrassed when you will be questioned about it. If you attend a conference please make sure to do it only if you whole-heartedly are interested. 

I hope you found this blog post helpful and have been convinced in attending the next good conference opportunity that comes your way.

You can check out the Harvard Business Review's post on making the most out of the conference.

-Nishma Khetia.

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