We’ve all been there. You sign up for an info session at a conference or an event with a presentation that sounds intriguing and potentially groundbreaking. You sit down for the session, pen in hand, ready to take notes. Throughout the entire session you wait for something noteworthy – something so insightful you just have to tweet it, write it down, and take it back to the office to share with your colleagues or impress your boss. You wait, and you wait, and nothing. Turns out the session isn’t what you thought it would be. The information doesn’t apply to your organization or your job, or it covers information you’ve already heard a million times (social media 101, anyone??).
Recently I attended an event that left me feeling this way. So now what? Did I just waste an hour or two of my time?
Looking to get as much out of every info session, career improvement, and personal growth opportunity as I can, I am asking myself the following questions to see what I really got out of my recent info session:
- Networking: Above all else, did I make new connections? Who did I meet? What did they do and where did they work? What partnerships can come out of those new connections?
- Information gathering: Did I learn about a new organization? What was the hosting organization? Do I want to get involved with that organization? What can I learn about their mission and activities?
- Session content: Was it applicable to a colleague or coworker? Who can I recommend the presenter and/or their content to? Who can I share the information with? Even though it may not have applied directly to me, who do I know who could benefit?
- Follow up: How can I further connect with either the presenter or someone at his/her organization? How would an individual informational interview benefit me – what can I learn or what connections could I make?
Bottom line: While on the surface it may seem like you didn’t get anything out of that information session, there are ways to approach the experience to really make the most of it. And don’t forget: always accept business cards, write down names, and share contact information from every interaction. You never know what that connection will come in handy!