After every Summit we ask the delegates to tell us the two most important factors in contributing to their decision to attend the event. Consistently the delegates cite the Summit program content and the opportunities to network. In the first part of this blog series, I summarized some best practices for networking, specifically for Sourcing professionals. In this part of the series, I will summarize best practices for obtaining the most value from the SIG Summit program content. Keep in mind, most of these also apply to other SIG event program content (like our Symposiums, Regionals, Webinars and Town Hall Teleconferences).
Before the Event:
Make arrangements to arrive early and depart late - for Summits this means come in on Monday night and plan to stay until Friday morning. The event schedule is packed and the attendees are high-level...trust me, you want to get there early and stay late.
Write a list of objectives - include the content you wish to cover. For example, you may own the Legal spend category or you may be in the process of supplier normalization or possibly building a case study for procurement transformation. Consider the industries and organizations you may be interested in hearing from...and understand the expectations of your boss and your team members...do they expect you to report your experiences? If so, how? And when?
Study the session schedule and details - we publish every session online, categorized by track. This includes the title, a session overview, and learning objectives. We include every speaker’s company name, so you can seek out the companies you want to hear from and build a custom schedule. For every Summit, you can create a custom schedule – so if you’re attending the Summit because you need best practices in contract management, fear not, we categorize breakout sessions by keywords and roles. For example, it’s super easy to select "contract management" as a keyword and then submit. The website will "spit out" a schedule you can view and print or copy/paste.
Download the app - Every SIG Summit has an app for your phone, tablet or even computer. Use the app to: add breakout sessions and other events to your calendar so you can create reminders; find your session utilizing the built-in map; view the speaker list – SIG is fortunate to have a lot of "movers and "shakers"...our membership is chock full of thought leaders who are highly respected, dynamic and willing to share.
Read blogs on best practices in networking - if you are a little gun-shy when it comes to networking, read this blog for some ideas. And if you find yourself stumped for conversation starters, try this list of questions to get the conversation going During the Event:
Review the session details - pay close attention to the program track (Sourcing, Outsourcing, Performance Management, Risk Management, Organizational Development, Leadership, etc.) and the Lifecycle (i.e., are you in the initiation stage of your program or in a steady state stage), so you can make sure to attend sessions that are relevant to you today.
Take extensive notes during each breakout session - use the app or flash drive to download a copy of the presentation and follow along. At the end of each day, review and summarize your notes. Each session presentation will list the speakers' contact info. Make sure and capture this information and write a few key notes about why you decided to keep this information. In my experience, after every single breakout session (and I've been to at least 500 of them now), the speakers are mobbed by the attendees, so if you can't make it to the front of the room to chat, write their names down and why you wanted to talk to them, so you can remember later and follow-up offline. Keep in mind that SIG selects the speakers because we know they are willing to share and will appreciate any follow-up (trust me).
Continually check your list of objectives - make sure you are meeting those objectives...if not, find a SIG person and ask them to help you figure out how to meet them.
Stop by the registration desk every morning - not only are we happy to have a chance to say hi, but it gives you a chance to check for any schedule addendums. On rare occasions, speakers and topics change - make yourself aware so you can adjust appropriately. SIG can also introduce you to contacts you are hoping to meet, provide you with a pashmina to warm you up in a cool conference room, or even plan the agenda for our next event around specific topics you would like us to focus on. In fact, our presenters WANT to know what you want to hear...just tell us! Send Mary Zampino an email right now on topics you need to know.
Complete the evaluations - SIG wants you to achieve your return on investment...tell us if the content/speaker met your expectations and why. If you think of other subjects or categories that you think we should cover, let us know. We try very hard to keep ahead of the trends and are very selective in the providers we invite to present. Let us know if we can improve and how. Your comments and suggestions are built into our speaker guidelines and certainly into the criteria we use to evaluate their proposals and presentations – be forthright and specific.
Read the thought leadership - look for the Thought Leadership table and pick up a copy of the white papers...tangible evidence of your attendance (wink wink) but also fantastic reading for conversation starters during networking events and/or the plane ride home (don't worry, we always provide a bag for you to carry these materials – and your laptop or tablet).
Meet and get to know a SIG veteran - At every Summit, first time attendees wear a name tag with a sticker of some kind indicating they are there for the first time (i.e., an apple when we were in New York, a cowboy boot in Texas, a cactus in Arizona, etc.)...find someone who's not a first time attendee and ask them how to best optimize your time at the Summit. Ask them to introduce you to other "veterans" or seek out SIG Advisory Board Members and ask them to help you make introductions. Next time, I'll provide a few tips for how to make the most of your time AFTER the Summit is over.
Mary has over 20 years of experience in information technology and over 15 years of experience in sourcing. Mary's responsibilities as SIG include sourcing and developing content for SIG's Global Summits, researching and developing content for the SIG Resource Center (SRC), serving as a member of the SRC Thought Leaders Council and their respective working groups, managing SIG's Peer2Peer member discussions, conducting benchmarking activities, and contributing to original SIG content through newsletter and blog entries.