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How To Manage Project Management Conferences

Project management conferences can be great places to enhance your skills. But are you like others? Do you fail to manage the conference before, during and after the event? After all, a convention is a project just like any other you manage.
That’s the perspective of Bruce Harpham writing at the AhHaMoments.com blog. He says, ” The time and effort required to attend a conference means you will meet with the most driven professionals. Realizing the benefits of these events require some thought and planning.”
He offers a 12-step program for getting the most bang for your buck. His information is practical and covers ground that’s not always new. Collectively, though, his points will greatly enhance your next conference.
Among the advice he offers is hitting the party circuit – at least attending one. It’s a great way to network. And, Harpham suggests, if there are no parties planned, make your own. Connect with new colleagues you meet and go out for dinner.
By the way, when attending a conference party, don’t believe in the sobriquet “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” As pointed out at CareerPlanning About, ” Attending a … party? Don’t check your professional reputation along with your coat. You should have fun, but be careful about having too good a time. (Be) able to return to the office with your head held high.”
Among the advice offered, besides the obvious about over imbibing, is not treating the event like a singles bar; don’t flirt or active in a sexual manner; keep your language and jokes appropriate; and dress professionally.
Harpham offers two pieces of pre-event planning: one good, the other not. The good piece of advice concerns laying out a budget for the conference. You want to make sure all the basics are covered but consider making an investment of personal funds, too. As Harpham notes, “Don’t be limited by your employer’s reimbursement policy. It’s worthwhile to set aside some extra money to attend dinners and other social events … even if those expenses are not covered.” Plus, you’re less likely to feel guilty about future employment networking if it was on your own dime.
The one piece of advice not as crucial is staying at the main conference hotel. Harpham says it puts you in the center of the action but it can also blow a hole in your conference budget. Also, staying off-site makes you more efficient in terms of planning your day. You won’t waste time returning back and forth to your room during the day, which takes you away from the action.
It’s also important during conferences to block time to see the vendors. The beauty of this is you can see them on your schedule and, best of all, you can simply walk away if you’re not interested. That’s much more difficult to accomplish when vendors come to see you at work.
Probably the most important part of any conference is what you do when it’s over. Too often presentation notes, business cards, and hand outs get tossed in a drawer rarely, if ever, to see the light of day.
Harpham has strong ideas on what to do after you come home and unpack the suitcase. He offers these suggestions:

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