So, this week I’m out at Ultimate Software’s annual customer conference called Ultimate Connections. They do a great job with their conference, and like their software, they’re willing to change quickly and try stuff.
A couple of things happened while I was here and it got me thinking about what the true value of any conference is we attend. Of course, the easy answer is always – it’s about connecting with peers and learning! But, then you show up at the conference and you talk to know one, you ask no questions, and you’re back in your room by 8 pm.
Ultimate Connections has peer networking time, but like many conferences, they make these sessions, with activities, based on the size of similar organizations. This is brilliant for a number of reasons because you now will make some really good connections and share your pain and successes, and down the road when you have a question you now have a handful of people to reach out to!
Speaking of questions. You know that awkward time at the end of conference sessions when the speaker says – “So, any questions?” and you hear crickets, or that one person who will ask, “Is the powerpoint deck available?”
Ultimate figured this happens to everyone so what’s a better way to increase engagement? How about you give the session attendees a phone number to text your questions to throughout the session!? It’s simple and you can’t believe how many questions come in. As a speaker, you bring a partner who can filter similar questions and now you have some real dynamic Q&A to go along with your session!
Conferences, for the most part, are all fairly similar. You get some great content, some average, some cool keynotes, some parties, a vendor show, etc. The reality is the best conference you’ll ever attend is the one where you remember actually connecting with real people, and you maintain those connections.
That will be a great takeaway for the Ultimate team in how can they continue the great connections beyond the conference with their customers. Not only is a super value-add for the attendees, but it also ensures higher retention when you can build your professional network because of the technology you’re using.
So, as the HR conference season gets into full swing, challenge yourself to force yourself to make connections with people you don’t know and build that network!