An Executive Director’s Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Next Conference

I recently had coffee with Carol Singer Neuvelt, Executive Director of NAEM. NAEM is a professional association that empowers corporate leaders to advance environmental stewardship, create safe and healthy workplaces, and promote global sustainability.

Carol says that one of NAEM’s biggest member benefits is its peer-led educational program, during which members share what they’ve done at their companies.

“How do you make sure members get the most out of these conferences?” I asked Carol.

Turns out Carol has three rules for getting the most out of a conference and she doesn’t hesitate to remind her members of these three rules at every turn.

  1. Learn something. This sounds so obvious, but how many of us decide to learn something? Carol says that if we go into each session with an open mind and a keen intention to learn at least one thing, the conference will be a success.
  2. Participate in the conversation. Carol says passively attending a conference is not enough. We should ask questions during sessions, interact with the speakers and attendees during the breaks, post comments on social media, and otherwise make our voices heard.
  3. Make a friend. This is my favorite pro tip from Carol. She’s basically telling us to get off our phones and make a new friend. At lunch, during dinner, at breakfast, during a reception. Introduce yourself, explain what you do and why you’re at the conference, and look for ways to connect with others.

I loved these tips so much, I had to share. They’re so obvious and yet so wise and so needed. I hope you’ll think about these tips as you head out to your next conference and encourage your staff and co-workers to do the same.

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