Why should you attend conferences?

Why do you go to conferences or events? Or what has stopped you from going in recent years?

Comms pros regularly ask which conferences or events I prioritise attending and what I recommend. So I thought I’d lift the lid on my own decision making in the hope it encourages you to consider your own professional development.

As a Fellow of the Institute of Internal Communication and Chartered Institute of Public Relations, I’m continually investing in my own professional development, including being a mentor with IoIC and being an Accredited Practitioner and Chartered PR with CIPR.

This means I complete my annual Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and I’m proud my Masterclasses are CPD accredited by both organisations so my course delegates can earn while they learn with All Things IC.

I echo the wise words of Dr Seuss when it comes to learning:

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

I attend conferences to listen, learn and network.

What stops you from going to conferences?….

Budget? There are lots of free or low-cost events, for example #TheBigYak unconference I hosted with my fellow The IC Crowd @theICcrowd co-founders on 9 June 2018, where tickets cost £10.

Top tip: Not sure if you can afford a ticket? Contact the organisers and offer to write about the event before, during and after, they may offer you a discounted ticket or even a free one. Not got a blog? Everyone who has a LinkedIn profile can use the publishing platform there (choose ‘write article’ in your status bar). The worst thing that can happen is they say no. But it’s always worth asking.

Not knowing what’s on? Keep an eye on my All Things IC events calendar to discover what’s happening within the comms community.

Time? I hear you. Taking time out of your schedule doesn’t always seem possible. My take on this is you need to stop doing the doing, to enable you to think about why and how you do what you do. If we get too busy doing the doing, we leave little time to think properly.

I discover this constantly when working closely with clients 1-2-1 and in my monthly Masterclasses.

Building in time to pause and reflect can amplify your work and speed up your efforts because you have clarity around not just what you’re doing, but how and why.

Why I attend conferences

Over the past 18 months I’ve been trying something different. Regular readers of my blog will know I’ve been on an exploration of personal branding and rebranding for All Things IC.

I’ve intentionally started to go to different conferences to expand my knowledge outside of internal communication.

I’ve found investing in my own development has opened up possibilities and sparked thoughts which have directly benefited my clients.

For example, last year there were two events I went to that made a big difference to my work and I have two coming up that I know will be as important.

Social Day
The first was Social Day 2017. During one of the breaks I started chatting with a fellow attendee, Julie Hall.

As a result of our conversations, I hired her to be my Marketing Mentor and Business Strategist. It’s due to Julie’s encouragement I started my new All Things IC newsletter and email marketing earlier this year. Thanks Julie!

She’s also helped me define and communicate how I help communicators succeed by working alongside me as I’ve developed my range of packages for comms pros to choose from.

Youpreneur Summit
During Social Day I heard Chris Ducker speak and as a result signed up to the Youpreneur Summit 2017. This is an event for entrepreneurs and business owners to get together, hear from inspiring speakers and spend time in Masterminds (each person has a turn in the hot seat to share what their business is about and receive coaching and advice from peers).

We don’t do that enough in internal communication.

As a result I launched two brand new All Things IC Masterclasses this week, which have a Mastermind session built-in: How to be a Communication Consultant: Exploration on 3 October 2018 and How to be a Communication Consultant: Momentum on 11 October 2018.

It’s good to listen

Attending Youpreneur in 2017 came at a pivotal moment for me, I’d just started working with Julie and being surrounded by other business owners gave me fresh perspectives, I learnt so much!

I’m looking forward to attending this year’s summit from 3-5 November, particularly as some of the speakers are people whose work I’ve read for years, such as Jay Baer. Tickets are out now and go up on 1 July 2018.

I recommend Chris’ book, The Rise of the Youpreneur if you are running your own business. It’s packed with sensible advice, inspiring stories and practical tips.

Media Influence Live

I also talked to Janet Murray at Social Day 2017, we had a chat in the break and she invited me to be a guest on her podcast. She followed up with me shortly after the conference and we recorded an episode for her podcast which I shared with you last year: How blogging can help your business.

I’ve invested two days of my time to attend her Media Influence Live event in London next week. I was due to attend Janet’s Your Year in PR conference last year but unfortunately had to cancel at the last-minute due to my son’s health.

I’ve chosen to go to this event on 5-6 July to meet other business owners and hear from Broadcasters first-hand. There’s a lively membership community I’m part of on Facebook and I’m looking forward to listening and learning.

How do you feel about going to events? If you feel nervous about meeting other people and networking, check out IC pro Helen Deverell’s recent blog post: Eight top tips to network with confidence.

Here are my top tips for attending conferences and getting the most from your investment

Once you’ve decided to attend an event, my advice is to:

1) Do your homework. If you’re feeling worried about attending solo, check out the hashtag via social media and see if you can connect with another delegate beforehand.

2) Go prepared. I take a charging block and cables with me when I attend events. I have a couple of chargers including this Juice one and this one. The Juice one has 6x iPhone charge, so even if you’re a serial Tweeter, it will last you

3) Buy stationery. Any excuse! But if you’ve attended any of my Masterclasses or heard me speak at conferences, you’ll know I give out my All Things IC postcards. The reason I use postcards is to separate out my notes, so what I really want to remember or act on gets written down. I find if I write a list of actions, it keeps me accountable afterwards as I check in with myself to ensure I don’t lose the momentum of my learning.

4) Be active. I often write blog posts after attending a conference to share what I’ve heard with people who were unable to attend. One of the ways I do that is to review the Tweets I shared @AllthingsIC during the conference.

So my top tip is to share what you’re hearing as you hear it. Sometimes if I’m listening to listen, rather than listening to share (which are two different things), I don’t Tweet as much and I then write more after the event.

5) Take photos. I often sit near the front of conferences. This is for a number of reasons, particularly because I have a slight hearing problem, so want to ensure I can hear, and also means I can capture good photos to share via my blog.

I use an iPhone and create a folder where I upload photographs of the slides. I find this helpful because organisers are often slow to get permission from speakers about sharing their content and I find it useful to refer to when blogging.

I’ve even attended conferences with friends, e.g. Jenni Field, and we’ve created a shared folder on our phones where we both upload photos as we’re listening, so we both have access to them.

6) Enjoy it! If you are investing time, money and effort in attending any conference, make sure you are present in the room. That means resisting the temptation to check work emails where you possibly can. I’ve found the more focused I am, the more I enjoy the event.

What’s on?

I shared these events in my All Things IC newsletter yesterday. In case you missed it, here’s what’s on.

See my Events Calendar for lots more and do contact my Executive Assistant Louise if you have an event you’d like us to consider including:

I hope the rest of your week goes well. Thank you as ever for stopping by,


Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on the All Things IC blog 29 June 2018.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post for Amazon and Youpreneur. 


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