Virginia Turfgrass Journal - January / February 2016

Page 32

Professional Matters

How to BENEFIT from Conference Attendance By Robert Harris, CAE, Harris Management Group


eminars and conferences are great opportunities for learning and networking. They offer information that is timely, while allowing you the opportunity to evaluate that information in terms of how it applies to you. Here are some guidelines to maximize the benefits of attending a seminar. Take these thoughts with you so you can walk away satisfied with your investment of time and money. • Since your objective is to learn and make yourself better, search for “idea-gems.” Try to walk away with at least two new things you can use right away. If you do this, you can consider your attendance worthwhile. • As you listen, try to apply the speaker’s concepts and information to your personality, style and career. Find the “ah-ha’s,” and convert them to your needs. Think, “How will this work in my environment?” Try to apply the principle in your mind as soon as you hear it. • Recognize that all information won’t apply all the time. So what? Pick out what will work, and concentrate on that. Relax, listen and think at the seminar. • Lower your sensitivity meter — or better yet, turn it off. You’re here to get information, not to be offended by a remark or word. Don’t expect everything to be politically correct. • Don’t cut off the presenter’s thought too soon, even if you’ve already heard the information from somewhere else. Just listen with the intent to thoroughly understand and to reinforce what you may already know.

• When you hear a familiar fact, don’t tell yourself, “I already know that.” Instead, ask yourself, “How good am I at that?” Self-evaluating is the only way to get better. • Write down questions as they occur to you, and ask them at the first appropriate moment. Question to learn, not to show-off in front of colleagues. • Take good notes. Too often, great ideas are forgotten in the great mass of information presented and are lost before they have a chance to be implemented. The ideas then fall victim to the busy work that awaits you after the event. • Write notes as if they will be read at your next staff meeting. Plan to share the “idea-gems” you learn with at least one other person at your organization. • Sit next to someone you don’t know. Stay away from the people you came with. Make new friends. Look for a potential mentor, customer or contact. At the breaks, make a point of meeting at least one new person. • Focus yourself. Many people are jealous or envious of the presenter and may try to distract you with their comments. Don’t worry about anyone else — just concentrate on becoming the best you can be for yourself.

Robert C. Harris, CAE, is CEO of Harris Management Group and the Non Profit Resource Center based in Tallahassee, Florida (bob@rchcae).

32 | VIRGINIA TURFGRASS JOURNAL January/February 2016

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