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Conference Fever – LinkedIn Talent Connect 2012

I have to admit it – I am one of the lucky ones. I work for a boss who is very supportive of my professional development needs. He understands that it formulates a major part of my job satisfaction and engagement levels. I am really lucky as this year he agreed to support me in attending LinkedIn’s annual Talent Connect conference in Las Vegas. I got to thinking though, I really need to work up a solid plan of attack on how I am going to approach this conference so I can maximize my efforts and return on my time and company dollars – seeing as my company is flying me across 4 time zones for 3 days! So last week and into this week, I have begun my preparations on what the key items are going to be in my approach and what I plan on doing at the conference Oct 10-12th.

Reach out in advance – I am currently scouring through my LinkedIn events page as I have been following the conference attendees on LinkedIn. (This, by the way, is a great feature of LinkedIn that I have previously blogged about.) I have identified no less than a half-dozen folks in my network that are attending and with whom I am hoping to connect in person. The great thing is that I am already batting 100% reaching out to 2nd and 3rd degree connections to set up meetings. Folks are very open to setting up times in advance to meet and connect in person to discuss business opportunities and network.
• Networking – one of the obvious benefits of conferences is the networking opportunities where you can meet professionals you would not normally get the chance to meet. The conference offers breakfast and lunch opportunities to connect and I plan to take advantage of these opportunities to meet Talent Specialists from all across North America to discuss best practices and find out more about them and their roles. Being from Halifax, Nova Scotia gives me a great lead in….many people are either surprised you are at the conference, or have never even heard of Halifax!
• Plan your plan – the conference offers several course offerings covering everything from an executive level focus down to an individual recruiter’s track.  I have been evaluating the track descriptions to identify which seminars are most in line with our current talent acquisition challenges and which will provide me with take-aways that I can apply at my company. I am already on iteration four of what I think I am going to do and I am sure that will change right up to the moment of departure! The challenge here is always to balance the relevancy of the topic and the speaker themselves – as often the quality of a speaker outweighs the topic for me.
• Participation – I am going to the conference armed with my laptop, blackberry, tablet and questions. I plan on asking questions of these subject matter experts that will be presenting to us. Often the best dialogue occurs during sessions when the session becomes interactive, or even afterwards when you get an opportunity to speak with a presenter 1:1. This is also a great opportunity to exchange business cards and connect on LinkedIn. I also plan to tweet live from the conference sessions I am attending in order to maintain a timeline of relevant content/snippets from each session.
• Report back – perhaps most importantly, my plan is to report back to my CEO, as he is the one that is paying for me to be there! He needs to know the high level details of what was gained by my going to the conference. He needs to know what I learned and most importantly, what I will be applying to the HR practices at his company in order to improve upon current Talent Acquisition practices. This helps cement the link between the conference dollars invested in me and the ROI for his company.

If you have any other suggestions for my plan of attack at the conference I would love to hear from you. Additionally, I will be blogging next week while I am in Las Vegas about the conference sessions that I attend. If you are interested in finding out more about the Talent Connect conference, you can follow this blog and/or follow me on Twitter at @hr_scottboulton for updates.

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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