5 Tips To Maximize Your Conference Experience Ahead of #ISM2017

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Here at JAGGAER, we’re gearing up for ISM 2017 next week in Orlando at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort. ISM is one of the largest events in the procurement world with over 2,500 attendees. Last year, 94% of attendees had direct conversations with exhibitors and 76% of those surveyed reported they plan to do business with an exhibitor they connected with. It goes without saying how this event is a game changer.

Whether or not your organization is attending ISM, it’s important to make the most out of any conference experience. Here are some tips:

1. LOOK AT THE SCHEDULE IN ADVANCE SO YOU CAN PLAN YOUR AGENDA AND DEVELOP A GAME PLAN

Today’s conferences offer a wide variety of breakout sessions including round tables, panel discussions, streaming presentations and workshops over multiple tracks. These presentations will overlap so doing your homework before you arrive is critical to attain your attendance goal. If you are attending a panel discussion or streaming presentation, prepare one question that you would like to ask during the Q&A portion. If time runs out before you are able to ask, follow up after the conference with the speaker or moderator. Are you attending the conference in order to fulfill education or certificate requirements? Make sure you know specifically what is required so you can earn the credit.

While it’s easy to get caught up in what’s required of you while attending conferences, remember to include time in your agenda to “smell the roses” and take advantage of enriching features offered. For example, at ISM this year, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron and Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell are speaking.

2. IF YOU ARE IN THE MARKET TO BUY, CONSIDER THIS:

  • Where are you at in the buying process? Do as much research in advance of the conference on specifically what are your organization’s needs and then review the conference’s website for the vendors sponsoring the event. You can then prepare questions in advance so when you are onsite, you are prepared to make the most of this opportunity.
  • Take advantage of a demonstration. It’s a low pressure way of seeing the product in use. I even suggest setting up an appointment in advanced so you know you will get the attention you deserve.
  • Ask the rep if there are customers at the conference that can serve as a reference you can connect with. It is amazing what you may learn about a vendor when you speak to someone in person.
  • By engaging with the reps at the conference, you will also be able to weed out vendors for your leadership team. You will quickly discover if a product doesn’t meet your needs or that the vendor isn’t a cultural fit for your own organization.

Remember, the team of representatives a company sends spend a lot of time planning and preparing how to ensure they put their best foot forward, so a conference facilitates an ideal “shopping” experience.

If you’re coming to ISM, stop by booth #411 to see what JAGGAER has to offer, we promise it’ll be well worth your time.

3. PICK UP SOME SWAG

Don’t forget to grab the gift bags for the freebies but also collect the presentation materials for later reference. For example, if you stop by JAGGAER’s booth at ISM, you can pick up our Spend Slayer guide with steps to get you a JAGGAER Jelly Speaker!

After the conference is over, it will seem like a blur so hold on to those pamphlets and swag to remind and inspire you later.

4. DOWNLOAD THE CONFERENCE APP AND CONNECT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Identify the conference hashtag (for ISM it’s #ISM2017) and follow the conference Twitter profile. You will get real time updates regarding changes and find out where speakers and your peers are hanging out. It’s also a great way to win giveaways and enter raffles. Many apps now offer a way to chat or message other attendees.  Which leads me to the final – and most important tip…

5. NETWORK!

Don’t be shy. Strike up a conversation on the fly, there are multiple receptions, mixers and ancillary events. These are golden opportunities to bounce ideas off of peers and subject matter experts to receive their real time feedback. Face-to-face meetings strengthen supplier relationships. Reach out through LinkedIn or their company websites to meet for a meal, coffee or during the cocktail hour. Or plan to connect after the conference is over. JAGGAER will be hosting the Networking reception at ISM this Monday evening from 5-7:30 p.m. in the Vera Cruz Ballroom where attendees can enjoy a cocktail on us!

Lastly, after you return back to the office, prepare and share your highlights with the team and leadership. Communicating your experience, what you learned and how it will benefit the organization will validate the money and time you spent away from the office. It may help secure your next conference!

We hope to see you at #ISM2017!

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