[The Company Conference]
[The Company Conference] is a minefield of networking, opportunities, faces you do know – that don’t know you – and faces you should know – but have no clue…
Having attended my company’s conference last week at the Hilton Dunblane Hydro [Scotland], it prompted me to think about how how much is going on in your head before you go: ‘What will I wear?’ ‘Who’s table will I be sat at?’ ‘Should I ask a question?’ ‘Do I know the numbers?’ ‘How much should I drink!?’
Well, here to help are my [Top Ten Tips] for feeling at your best at
The Company Conference.
Number 1: Know Your Shit.
Know your shit, at the business level, at your team level and on a personal level. No one respects someone in the business who is completely oblivious to the macro environment.
Have a good idea of the business performance, if the purpose of your conference [like mine] was to reflect on the last year before looking forward to the next, get a handle on some of the high level numbers before you go (if you don’t know them already). It will prepare you for more educated conversations and enhanced understanding of why things are the way they are. It also shows insight and genuine interest, differentiating you when talking to senior stakeholders.
Number 2: First Impressions Count
It’s a phrase well known, but how much does it actually matter? Well, our conscious minds can handle roughly 40 bits of information a second. [So What?] you say – That sounds like a lot until you realise our unconscious minds can handle 11 million per second. It is our unconscious mind that creates judgement in the first instance therefore it is important to manipulate as much as that as is possible.
How do we do this? Dress well, be well groomed and follow the #AllergictoAverage philosophy: Stand Out | Stand Tall.
Here’s one of the outfits I wore for the evening part of my conference:
Refer to earlier posts for guides on nailing corporate wear.
Number 3: Take Notes
First and Foremost, research says our brains can only maintain true focus for a maximum of 45 minutes, before it begins to lose steam. Taking notes will help guide that focus, but also act as a reminder to look back on when we inevitably forget that one piece of information we told ourselves we have to remember…
Number 4: Take your own Pad
Take your own notebook. Hotel/Conference notebooks are shit. I have not yet came across one that stays together after 1 hour of use.
Number 5: Ask questions
‘Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers’ [Tony Robbins]
If we’re going with the #AllergictoAverage mantra (which obviously, we are) wanting to stand out is a great thing. Asking questions is a sure-fire way to get noticed and be remembered, if you’re a quick thinker like me, just rely on thoughts springing into your head as and when subject matter provokes you. Write these down. You don’t want to forget them when the opportunity presents itself. If you need a little more time to think, check the agenda in advance, anticipate the speaker’s topics and their stance on the issues being discussed; take prepared questions along with you. Remember, no question is a silly question and by having the confidence to ask you’ve made bigger steps than if you hadn’t asked at all.
Number 6: The Bar
Now, this tip could have a full blog post dedicated of its own! [The Bar] is for celebration, clinking of glasses congratulating success aaaaand multiple cocktails and shots. Enjoy it! But pace yourself, no one wants to be the one chaperoned to bed at 9.30pm or with the extremely red face in the office come Monday morning (not that would EVER happen of course). Depending on what time the drinks start, if like my conference pre-dinner drinks were scheduled for 6.30pm and if, like me, you’re a bit of a lightweight… drink water in between your drinks up until dinner. It will set you in better stead for the evening. Additionally, [Beware of the Bubbles] I know if I want to keep my dignity I can only have a few glasses. Once dinner is over, everyone starts to relax and the party kicks in – from this point on please feel free to sample every spirit on the bar and potentially ramp up to doubles come 10pm, assuming you will [drink responsibly].
Number 7. [Always] Pack an Outfit Change.
Yes, one too many box splits on the dancefloor [or maybe just an overindulgence on the chocolate caramel dessert] will result in trousers splitting, at the crotch, not ideal.
Thankfully one of my wonderful colleagues and friends had a spare change – which I didn’t have – which she so kindly lent to me, even if this did make us like the dancing twin emojis
[ ] it was surely better than everyone seeing a snippet of my VS underwear…
Number 8: Exert Caution at the Photobooth
A few glasses of bubbles down we hit the photobooth. [Yes] it is likely the photos will be hosted on a giant screen behind the dancefloor and [Yes] it is likely all colleagues will be given access to the photos post conference…
Number 9: Your Best Friend Berocca
If your conference is over 2/3 days and you have had a little tipple the evening before, make sure you have Berocca! Thankfully at our conference, there was Berocca on the tables for our morning sessions. A proven mix of vitamins and minerals it helps you stay energised for the day and could keep that sore head at bay.
Number 10: Map Your Network
Before you go, identify who you need or want to talk to. In a large corporation sometimes it’s hard to get time with the people you need. Whether it’s on a personal/career level or for getting attention or insight for a specific idea you have – use the environment of the conference to do it. Catch someone while they’re filling up their coffee, in the ladies loo [if it’s a woman of course] or whilst they’re waiting at the bar. Introduce yourself with confidence and deliver your elevator pitch. This should be no more than 60 seconds which incorpates key messages. For example: if it’s on a personal development level, you may start with [Hello, can I introduce myself? It’s great to be able to get a chance to speak to you! My name’s Nicole – I’m really enjoying the conference – it’s great to meet so many new people that you don’t get the chance to meet day-to-day. I’m trying to build my network within the organisation so this is brilliant for doing so’] Not only have you established yourself with confidence, you’ve brought attention to the fact you’re aware of your personal development and the importance of networking; hence why you may have approached the person in the first place.
Map out the opportunities the conference presents and create a bit of a mini strategy on how to achieve these. Identify others who could help you on this journey – perhaps someone you know who is a mutual tie to the person you want to speak to. Approach with the right balance of confidence and subtlety and you’ll have nailed it.
Now, to really seal the deal, follow up on Monday morning with an email; make reference to your conversation, thank them for their time and if you’re feeling confident – ask for a follow up. Boom; consider your network expanded.
Be Prepared | Take It On
Black and White Trouser Suit | Zara
Blue Lace Up Heels | Zara
Both Black Dresses | Topshop.