Going to an innovation event can be an awesome experience; you will be inspired by your peers, learn about the newest trends in innovation management and you can establish really useful and long-lasting relationships.
Although it is great to attend a conference with colleagues, and there are many reasons to bring them along, conferences can also be a bit frightening when you attend alone, difficult when the conference is not in your native language, or quite exhausting when you are pulled into the party in the evenings, and need to present fresh the next day. Moreover, to get approval you needed to promise to your boss to get a high ROI, so you better perform.
In other words; you want to know how to not just survive, but to maximize your conference experience. And who knows this better than the people that attend a lot of conferences? After a quick research amongst experienced HYPE conference-attendees, the following tips emerged:
1. Have a goal
Everybody attends a conference for a different reason. Know your goal; this helps you to prepare for the event. Write it down on your notepad, keep it mind throughout the event.
2. Know who is coming and make first appointments
Since a long time, you know which speakers attend but you are probably curious whoelse is attending. During the conference there are plenty of networking moments, but people always find a way to be busy. So if there is somebody that you would like to talk to or ask a question, make an appointment with him or her beforehand.
3. Connect with your contacts
At the forum people from HYPE will be present that you normally just speak to over the phone. Take the time to connect with them, ask them for the latest updates and bond over a drink. Use the time to get advice, or pointers to people who can help you out.
4. Dress smart
Wear something that you will feel comfortable in. You will be wearing it the whole three days, sitting, standing up, and eating food, talking to people. It can be chilly near the air-conditioning and it can be warm when you are stressed, so be prepared.
5. Ask questions
It’s go time! During the presentations other organizations will share their insights on their innovation program. They elaborate on failures and successes. This is the moment to ask questions. So please do so! If there is no time for your question before the next presentation starts, don't worry. For the first time, we will have a speakers corner right next to the stage where you can head to a bit later to ask your remaining questions. Before you head to the event, ask colleagues if you can ask questions on their behalf, make a list and get HYPE folks to help you answer them.
Next to this list of tips, we also asked a few people to respond with their personal tip for the forum:
Tim Woods, Ex-VP of Marketing:
“Use HYPE to connect to other people, this is what the event is all about; bringing innovation professionals together”. Your contacts at HYPE can introduce you to other organizations with similar innovation programs, or with similar challenges.
Colin Nelson, Director of Enterprise Innovation Consulting at HYPE:
There are a number of tips I can give you. But if you need one, than I would suggest to attendees to “play an active part in the round tables, ask questions, share their challenges and ideas”. The conference is an open environment, and it is designed to facilitate learning from each other. The more you play an active role, the more you will get out of it.
Jeske Eenink, Business & Marketing Manager:
“Don’t stay up until too late, but don’t leave too early”. During the day the presentations are interesting, and the networking keeps on going. The fun part about a conference like the HYPE INNOVATE is that each year you become closer to the people of HYPE, and you become part of the family. This family enjoys talking to each other, network, and take a few (or more) drinks. The hours late at night are magical and it is the time of really getting into deep conversations about innovation management. However, Thursday morning day two starts at 9.00 am and you need some sleep. You definitely do not want to miss out on all the fun, but a little bit of sleep is also very much appreciated to show up fresh.
My personal tip: "Get enough sleep before you arrive". During these conferences you want to pay attention to the presentations, meet new people, connect with your HYPE connections and have some fun. This all takes a lot of energy. To get the most out of the conference, it is smart to be well rested in advance.
Last but not least. Are you not experienced in packing your luggage for a business trip? Click here for an easy how-to-clip so you don’t forget any essentials for your survival kit.