While we were at Staffing World, our communications director stayed home, then went to a conference of her own the next week. Catherine attended the International Association of Business Communicators’ Heritage Regional Conference in Pittsburgh, and she hasn’t stopped raving about it since she got back. So we figured we’d let her spell out what made it so great.
- Keep the size manageable. There were about 200 attendees at the conference (it’s a regional conference, not a national one), which made it large enough to have a diverse representation of people and specialties, but small enough to have a chance to meet a lot of people. Of course, Staffing World is much, much larger, but the tracks and breakout sessions it offers can effectively shrink the group of people you’ll encounter.
- Celebrate the location. Pittsburgh is home to the Andy Warhol Museum, which was the site of a pre-conference lecture and networking event. The museum was a perfect choice: it showcased one of the highlights of Pittsburgh’s culture and the lecture on Warhol’s power as a communicator tied the event into the conference.
- Give networkers something to talk about. The networking event on the conference’s first evening was sports-themed, and all conference attendees were encouraged to wear a piece of sports memorabilia from their favorite team: a jersey, hat, t-shirt, etc. Thus, attendees could approach each other with a built-in topic of conversation and potential bonding.
- Let attendees eat with locals. During the conference’s first day, attendees were encouraged to sign up for dinner at one of Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants (eight choices were offered). After the networking event, attendees broke into groups by restaurant, and then went to dinner accompanied by local residents who could show them the sights of the city and give them a little more local flavor. It’s so easy to
- Make at least one keynote all about attendees. The last day of the conference, the mid-morning keynote concerned the changing nature of communications and outlined a process for reinventing a company’s communications priorities and procedures. After the keynote, attendees broke into sessions based on their areas of focus (employee communications, branding/marketing, social media, crisis communications) to brainstorm ways to apply the keynote’s process to their own jobs. Then the whole conference reconvened to share their best ideas from the breakout sessions. Catherine missed the sessions and the reconvening due to travel times, and she’s still bitter about it.
What was your favorite part of Staffing World? Did your experience have some high points in common with Catherine’s excellent adventure in Pittsburgh? Let us know in the comments!