CompuScripts Court Reporters loves to stay in touch with our clients, and we communicate with them daily through emails and phone calls. But what we most enjoy is the opportunity to connect with attorneys and paralegals in person at the many trade shows and conferences we support through sponsorships and expositions.
And we do mean MANY! By the end of the year, we will have attended conferences with women lawyers, tort lawyers, young lawyers, construction lawyers, and solo practitioners, along with paralegals from the Upstate, Midlands, and Lowcountry of South Carolina. In addition to that, we attend national and regional court reporters’ conventions and meetings. We know that it can be hard to choose the right conference, and even harder to decide what to do when you get there. CompuScripts has been attending legal industry conferences for over twenty years, and we’ve learned some tips for making the most of the conference experience. This week, we’d like to share them with you.
Create a game plan.
Why are you attending the conference? Are you looking for clients? Would you like to find a mentor in your field? Do you need continuing legal education credits? The Advising Council at the University of California at Berkeley recommends that attendees identify their goals and then prepare to accomplish them by reading the conference materials and choosing sessions that are the most relevant. So look at the list of participants and identify those with whom you’d like most to connect. Target the educational sessions that best suit your interests. Invite a prospective client or mentor for a drink or a meal during free time. And don’t minimize the importance of wardrobe planning. Bruce Balmer, CompuScripts vice-president and Certified Legal Video Specialist, is a frequent conference attendee and presenter, and he swears by packing the right shoes. “I attended a National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas, and there were seven exhibition halls,” he said. “When you have a lot of ground to cover, it’s important to dress professionally, but comfortably.”
Break Up With Your Partners.
If you’re attending a conference with associates, it’s tempting to attend events together. But you’ll get more out of the experience if you treat it as a fact-finding mission and assign different tasks to different team members. Educause Quarterly, a publication which looks at Internet technology and higher education, suggests that by approaching the event in this way, your organization “…gets the best return on the conference without overtaxing any of you.” So meet as a group before the conference to decide who is best suited to accomplish specific goals. Is a team member shy and retiring? Send him to the formal presentation. What about the gifted speaker? She goes to the panel discussion. Fact and figure experts? They go to the vendors for product and pricing information.
Make Yourself Visible.
Your chances of conference success are minimal if no one knows you’re there. Neil Patel, entrepreneur and analytics expert, says on his Quicksprout website, “Recently, it has become a trend to not carry business cards, and this is a big mistake. If you don’t make it easy for people to contact you, no one will.” So ditch the rubber bands, invest in a card case, and practice your introduction, or “elevator pitch,” in advance. According to Patel, your EV should consist of your name, what you do for work, and your reason for attending the conference. Sponsored social events are also a time to meet industry peers. “I made wonderful acquaintances, both personal and professional, at an optional wine-tasting,” said Balmer. “Group social events provide great opportunities for one-on-one contact with other participants.” And keep your mobile smart phone handy. In his LinkedIn post entitled “How To Get the Most from a Conference,” Don Peppers says, “If you’re a Twitter user, then by all means tweet up a storm during and between sessions, using the conference’s hashtag. Various other attendees will be tweeting as well, and raising your visibility in the Twittersphere is an excellent way to ensure that people who are interested in the things you’re interested in will actually connect with you.”
Meet Your Vendors.
Finally, leave enough time to meet the vendors associated with your conference. Most schedule 15 to 30 minutes between educational presentations, but that might not be enough. “If you only see vendors between sessions, you might be fighting a crowd,” said Deborah Dusseljee, CompuScripts president. “If you are interested in the latest products and services available in the legal industry, make plans to visit the exhibition hall during an educational presentation. There will be less traffic in the hall, and it’s a great time to ask questions, view a demonstration, or schedule a meeting.”
So be sure to look for CompuScripts Court Reporting the next time you attend a legal industry conference in South Carolina or nationally. We’d love to meet you in an educational session, in the exhibition hall, or at a fun social event. To find out where we’re headed next, ‘like’ us on Facebook, or ‘follow’ us on Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. We’ll make sure to save you a seat.