Share

Bookmark and Share

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to the NonprofitMaine blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Top 7 Tips to Make the Most of Opt In 2019

by Katrina Ruffner

Top 7 Tips to Make the Most of Opt In 2019

  1. Reflect On Your Goals Before You Attend + Make a Plan
  2. Check Assumptions at the Door + Use Every Opportunity to Learn
  3. Make Learning Social (even if you are an introvert)
  4. Participate + Ask lots of Questions
  5. Don’t Forget to Follow up
  6. Take Time to Reflect on What You Learned
  7. Share What You Learned with Others

1. Reflect On Your Goals Before You Attend + Make a Plan

Are you looking to build your network? Learn something new? Find a solution to a communications problem? Gain new tools? Develop new skills? Refresh your interest and enthusiasm for your work?

Whatever your goals, be intentional by developing a clear plan to get what you want out of the conference.

Visit the Opt In 2019 website, research presenters and prioritize which sessions you want to attend. Focus on variety, narrow down your options and be realistic about how much information you can digest in one day.

Review the participant list and connect with colleagues before the conference. Organize a car pool, invite someone to grab coffee with you at breakfast or connect on social media.

2. Check Assumptions at the Door + Use Every Opportunity to Learn

It is not every day you can put aside all preconceived notions and ask questions that you otherwise might find too silly to ask. Bring an open mind to learn and remember that it is impossible to know everything. Be curious, talk to others about your challenges, and ask for advice.

There may be sessions that you think do not apply to you. The fact is that it is impossible to plan an entire conference that applies directly to each person’s situation. Instead of thinking, “this session doesn’t apply to me,” ask yourself, “how can I apply what this speaker is saying to my own organization?”. Often times when you learn how others are approaching problems, it sparks new ideas to help you approach your own problems.

3. Make Learning Social (even if you are an introvert)

Many folks take conferences too seriously and completely dread networking but it could be argued that you can gain as much if not more value talking with peers than attending breakout sessions. You are sure to meet people who share your interests, and who can teach you something new. Relax and have a good time. You may be tempted to stick by your familiar friends and colleagues but make it a point to expand your professional contacts by introducing yourself to at least three new people.

In addition, make sure to bring your business cards. They may seem like a networking tool of the past; however, they still hold value and serve as a reminder to follow up with the interesting people you meet.

4. Participate + Ask lots of Questions

Raise your hand, tell a story, share a challenge, suggest a solution, give an example, reflect, and ask many questions! As mentioned before, learning is social and much of the learning that happens at Opt In will be through peer-to-peer sharing and interaction. This is a great opportunity to get helpful feedback on your work.

Come to Opt In prepared and on a mission to get answers to all your questions. Talk to presenters, ask for recommendations, share your challenges and ask for suggestions. The learning experience will be far more relevant to you and your organization, if you come prepared to be an active participant in your learning.

5. Don’t Forget to Follow up

You put a lot of thought and energy into networking, so make that investment count! Make time immediately following the conference to connect with each new person you met. Send an email, pick up the phone or connect on social media. You will keep building on relationships, which can lead to new resources and opportunities to strengthen your work.

6. Take Time to Reflect on What You Learned

Have you ever heard of the forgetting curve? This is the brain’s natural loss of information.

Research has shown that retention of information starts to fall drastically within just the first 24 hours! The studies suggest that 90% of information is forgotten within 30 days and 70% of that loss happens within one day.

Learning is an ongoing process of sense making and reflection enables us to make connections between our learning and our work. Put aside an hour within a few days of the conference to review your notes, ponder your biggest takeaway and make a list of ideas or tasks. Then make plans to put all those great ideas into actionable steps.

7. Share What You Learned with Others

It is likely that you have colleagues who were not at the conference who would benefit from hearing what you learned. Consider yourself an ambassador of learning! Bring conference highlights back to your organization by presenting at your staff meeting, invite colleagues to a brown bag debrief or write a blog post to share key takeaways.

In the words of the great Jedi leader: “Always pass on what you have learned.” -Yoda

2 thoughts on “Top 7 Tips to Make the Most of Opt In 2019

Trish Vogel says:

Will the presentations be available as podcasts?

Kelly McCormack says:

Great question, Trish! They won’t be recorded this year, but it’s on our wish list for the future. We look forward to seeing you there!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *