December 19, 2016
A few months ago, I shared how to get involved in the Magento community. Part of that included a significant number of events ranging from conferences to hackathons to meetups in over 25 countries. As I mentioned at Mage Titans USA, I believe this stems from a community of innovators who tend to be lifelong learners.
It’s important, if you want to keep attending events, to be able to identify the value for yourself and your team or business. Here are six steps I believe will help you do just that:
1. Know Your Goals
There are many ways to prepare for an event in advance, but arguably the most important one is to know your goals. There are a few ways to do this:
Look at the agenda and make a list of any sessions that are “can’t miss.”
Find out who’s going that you’d like to connect with and, if possible, set a time at the event to do so.
Identify at least one thing that you want to come out of the event with a greater knowledge of. What do you want to learn that, if learned, will make you feel like the event was a success?
2. Say Hi to People
One of the most valuable aspects of events is relationship building. Whether this is an existing friendship, or business relationship, that you’re able to grow or a brand new one, these connections are invaluable for moving yourself and your business forward.
The Magento community is generally a welcoming, friendly bunch, so find someone you’d like to meet, walk up to them, and introduce yourself. If you connect with them, don’t forget to find out how to keep in touch after the event whether it’s Twitter, email, or something else.
3. Write Down Key Takeaways
If you’re like me, you remember things better if you actually write them down. I have a notebook that goes with me to every meeting and event for this reason. Some prefer typing notes on their phone or device. The key here is to focus on the takeaways that matter the most to you. These might not be the points that were the most important to the speakers you listened to, but that’s okay. Once you have these takeaways in a safe place to look at after the closing parties, you can convert them into action steps.
4. Share With Your Team
Set up a time to share your knowledge with your team whether it’s is an informal conversation over Slack or an internal meetup in your office. It’s important for your team to know what you learned at an event so they can anticipate the changes that come with this knowledge, see the value in why you attended and plan out how they can attend future events themselves.
5. Apply What You Learn
First, think through what you brought back. For each key takeaway, ask yourself: Is this concept relevant, realistic and refined for me, my team and/or my project? (In an article titled How to Turn All Those Conference Takeaways Into Tangible To-Do's, John Bonini describes this step as “The Three R’s of Implementation.”)
Next, take a look at how you can convert these takeaways into action steps and categorize or prioritize each one. For example:
What can I apply now?
What can I apply to my next project?
What can I start applying next year?
6. Keep the Conversations Going
There are many ways to keep the conversations going after an event. Most rely on making sure you said “Hi!” to someone, as in my second point. Hopefully, you’ve met at least one person at the event that you can collaborate or brainstorm with moving forward.
Additionally, I’d recommend getting involved in a local Magento Meetup to connect with others near you and maybe even give a presentation on the knowledge you brought back. If you’re not sure where to look, you can always reference our meetup portal. (Don’t see a Magento Meetup near you? Maybe it’s time to see if there’s enough interest for you to start one!)
At the end of an event, you should be able to fill out this phrase in some way:
I learned _____ from _____ and will apply it by _______________________________________.
I learned how to make the most of events from Sherrie Rohde and will apply it by finding at least one thing from my next event that I can apply to improve my work.
Ready to put this into action? Check out our events page or hop over to our meetup portal to find an event near you or a place you’d like to visit. If you already have your next event lined up, tweet me at @sherrierohde and let me know where you’re headed!