The GoodPractice team are delighted to be returning to the Learning Technologies conference on the 1st and 2nd of February at Olympia in London. You can visit us on Stand M5. Learning Technologies is a key event for L&D practitioners, with a great speaker line up, a multitude of free sessions, great networking opportunities and the industry’s leading suppliers out in force.
Learning Technologies is so huge that it can be difficult know where to start. To help you get more from your conference experience, the GoodPractice team have come up with some top tips to help you before, during and after the conference.
Plan your approach. Take some time to go through the conference programme, and select sessions that are relevant for your role, and the L&D challenges you are currently facing. Although you should definitely plan your approach, don’t be afraid to change your mind, especially after seeking out the opinions and recommendations of others.
Do some research. If you are unsure about a particular topic or speaker, or perhaps haven’t seen them speak before, do some research first. Look out for previous podcasts, YouTube videos or blog posts to help you decide. The Learning Technologies resources page is a good place to start.
Check out the big names. If you haven’t seen the big name conference circuit regulars in action before, remember that it can be worthwhile going to see them even if you don’t feel they’re talking about something that directly impacts you, or your organisation. There’s a reason they keep being asked back to speak.
Get some recommendations. If you’ve not attended Learning Technologies before then it can be a good idea to speak to someone who has. They may well have some recommendations for who has impressed them in the past, or indeed what to avoid. We’ve got some recommendations based on our own experience coming up in a later blog.
Use Twitter. Keep an eye on Twitter in the run up to the conference – make sure you are following @LT17uk for the latest updates and follow the conference hashtag #LT17uk for the pre-conference build up. You may find there are people going you’d be interested in meeting up with for a coffee or who would be happy to suggest sessions you could attend.
Get the App. The Learning Technologies mobile event app is a great way to plan your sessions and stay organised. The app includes full seminar schedules and speaker listings plus exhibitor details plus options to personalise your conference agenda. The app is available for download for IOS, Android and all other internet enabled mobile devices.
Speak to people. This seems an obvious thing to suggest, but lots of people can be a bit nervous about striking up a conversation, particularly if it’s their first time at Learning Technologies or they are attending the conference on their own. If this sounds like you, think of some opening lines to help strike up a conversation. “What did you think of that session?” is a good opener.
Don’t be afraid to vote with your feet. If you feel that all you’re getting from a session is a thinly veiled sales pitch (and you’re not interested) then you may be able to catch the rest of a concurrent session that’s a better use of your time. Or you can catch one of the exhibitor stands you were planning to see. We’ll be sharing our top picks for who to visit in a later blog.
Attend the post conference social events. There are usually a range of post conference networking events, especially on the evening following the first day. These are a great opportunity to meet and get to know other people who are passionate about L&D. For example, LearnPatch is running two barcamp events in the evening after the first day.
Tweet your thoughts. There is a lot of Twitter activity and conversation during the conference and during the sessions themselves. Don’t be worried about tweeting and sharing your conference experience during the sessions – remember to use the conference hashtag #LT17uk and the specific hashtag for the sessions you attend. You can also search using the session hashtag to see what issues people are talking about, and join in the debate. The flip side of this is not to stay glued to your phone during the networking breaks – make a point of trying to meet new people.
Follow some key influencers: If you don’t already so do, follow some of the main speakers, L&D bloggers and influencers on Twitter. They’ll provide great commentary and you’ll quickly see what people are talking about and whether any interesting themes are emerging. There is also a dedicated Learning Technologies social media backchannel team providing great commentary and insight for the duration of the conference.
Avoid the urge to ‘extract value’ from every interaction. Conferences are a brilliant opportunity to connect with people who you might be able to help, and who might be able to help you months or even years in the future.
Follow up. If you met some new people at the conference, make the effort to follow up with them afterwards, rather than chucking the business cards in the bin. Find out what they thought about the conference, and what they are taking back to their own organisation. Did their experience resonate with yours? If not, why not?
Share your experience. It can be really helpful to share your conference experience with others – you can do this be providing a de-briefing session to colleagues, or perhaps writing a blog or LinkedIn Pulse post about what you learned.
Find out what you missed. LT17 is so big, that you can sometimes miss out on some really good sessions. If there was a session you heard about that you wish you’d gone to, then take a look at the conference videos which are shared afterwards.