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How Do I Get The Most Out of My Safety Conference Attendance?
A professional safety conference always best treated as a learning experience. Your company is probably footing the bill, and so you may be tempted to treat your next safety conference as a paid vacation. Don’t do that, as you’ll be missing one the greatest growth opportunities in this field and your career. Here, I’ve included 4 simple tips to get the very most out of your attendance in a safety or any other conference.
1. Treat the Conference Like a Class
If you’re attending a safety conference, the odds are good that you’re a safety professional, and that means the odds are good that you’ve spent some time in a classroom at some point in your life. To make the most of this experience, you need to bring those skills to bear on conference seminars, workshops, and demonstrations.
A good way to take notes at a conference is to identify which areas your organization could improve, and then tailoring your attendance schedule to events that address these specific issues. It may help to prepare an outline of events you want to attend ahead of time, and use that outline to guide your note taking during the events themselves.
2. Compare Notes with Other Professionals
Here is an example; take your written safety plans for your company. One of the most beneficial ways to interact with the safety conference is to bring copies of plans based on scheduled sessions/events with you so that you might compare it against the suggestions and innovations offered. In this way, you’ll be able to identify where your plans could be improved, and what aspects of your plans have been rendered out-of-date by advances in technology.
Likewise, actively working on your plans while attending the conference will give you the added bonus of providing a product that you can show your employer. By showing your colleagues and supervisors a tangible benefit to your attendance, your organization will be much more likely to consider participating in the future–which is a nice way of saying you might be able to earn yourself another free working vacation!
Another critical aspect of making the most of any conference is to actively participatein events and workshops. Some of the brightest minds in safety management will be on hand to answer questions–take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to get insight into your organization’s problems by identifying areas in which your team could improve and drafting a series of questions to ask during the question and answer sessions that often follow convention events.
4. Pace Yourself
Some conference goers face the opposite problem than that alluded to in point three; they not only participate, they run themselves into the ground doing so. Rebecca Knight, of the Harvard Business Review, notes that conference goers who are actually enjoying the experience and that are actively engaged in what’s going on tend to get a lot more out of their attendance than those who feel pressure to perform.
Ms. Knight suggests that it’s okay to spend a significant amount of time with a few select people if you’re more comfortable networking among smaller crowds. Put another way, don’t feel pressured to perform or participate in a way that’s going to distract you. The key to getting the most out of a safety conference is to be actively and positively engaged with the material, and you can’t do that if you’re constantly in a state of dread or fear–remember, not everyone is built the same way and that’s okay.
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