Five simple rules to maximize your next business trip, conference or event


I’d argue that these apply equally to conferences, small gatherings, offsites, team meetings and more:

  1. Go in with a plan:  Decide in advance what sessions you are prioritizing, where you want to be throughout the day.  This plan is your guide, not your master.  It’s your default priority, with permission to change at any time.
  2. Meet as many people as possible:  Sitting next to you at the general session, in line for food, in the hotel elevator.  If they’re wearing the same badge around their neck, they are one of you.
  3. Be open to serendipity:  An unexpected meeting, a spontaneous invitation. These impromptu opportunities often become the highlight of your trip with the longest-tail of value, personally and professionally.
  4. Take tons of notes:  A great event is like a fire hose of ideas – some direct, some inspired, some simply triggering something independent, irrelevant but critical to your life, your business, your career, your objectives.  Your best chance at leveraging those ideas is to capture as many as possible, giving you time to reflect and act on more of them later.
  5. Be present: If you insist on checking email every 10 minutes, keeping every regularly-scheduled conference call, getting just as much “at office” work done as usual, you’ll fail to benefit from being truly out of the office.  This is your chance to learn something new, meet someone inspiring, get a spark that makes that back-at-the-office work far more compelling, valuable and successful.  Sometimes the best conferences begin with the best preparation.  Clear your schedule, get work done before or plan to get it done later.  Be there in mind and body.