I recently dropped off my oldest son at college. It was a momentous time sending my first child out the door. Not only did it bring a flood of my own college memories back, but it also made me realize that we often wait until the last minute before we impart the pearls of wisdom that might be most helpful in a new setting. I took the opportunity to write an article (if you call a Facebook posting an "article") to him, chock full of advice on washing clothes, changing sheets, using good judgment and much much more. As I reflect on that moment, it makes me realize that often when we approach the Summit, we assume people don’t need our advice on how to make the Summit a great experience...and you know what they say about assumptions. With three new SIG employees, it occurred to me that perhaps some Summit pearls of wisdom might be in order, so here goes:
Don't miss the networking events. Most people come to events for two reasons—the first, education is what gets the approval for the plane ticket, but it's the second, networking that often gives you the most bang for your buck. One conversation can help you solve a problem...or create a lifelong resource...or even identify a potential vendor or partner. Because of that, we factor in a lot of time for networking. Our breaks are long and our evening events are lively and fun. For real energizing networking, our Tuesday evening Speed Networking is not to be missed. Even if networking is not something that comes naturally, this "speed dating" style of networking makes it easy to meet people quickly, exchange business cards and move on. On that note...
Don't be a wallflower. It's easy to want to fade into the background at an event, especially if it's your first time there and you don't know what to expect or don't know a single person there. The SIG Summit is full of opportunities to connect with other people who are experiencing the same work challenges you are—so don't be shy! One way to break the ice is to look for people with a special designated sticker on their name badge. We'll be sure to tell you what it is when you arrive, but in essence, it is a visible, easy-to-see way to identify all people who are at a Summit for the very first time. We've used stickers such as cowboy boots, guitars, crabs and more. You can't beat an ice breaker like, "So I see you're a crab." It makes people laugh and opens the door for conversation.
Bring more business cards than you think you will need. We tell people this in our email communications, but few believe you'll need all of them. Even if you only go to the speed networking event, you will run out. Trust me on this.
Read the abstracts in advance. Download the SIG Events app or look at the descriptions online. Either way, think about the things you want more information on so you can tailor your experience in the most effective way. Not only will it make it a better overall event for you, but you will likely get some nuggets from other companies that you can immediately implement when you are back in the office.
Be open-minded. Sometimes the best ideas come from industries you would never expect. Often we think we need to network with other companies like our own to hear "next" practices. But as a recent Summit keynote speaker Stephen Shapiro said, sometimes you shouldn't be thinking outside the box, you should be looking for a new box for great ideas. We can't wait to welcome you to the greater Denver area...so hurry up and get here! If you aren't registered, do it now so we can have a registration packet and big SIG smile waiting for you.
Sarah Holliman, Chief Marketing Officer, has more than 20 years of experience in the sourcing industry. Prior to joining SIG's leadership team, Sarah was with A.T. Kearney, leading the marketing efforts for the A.T. Kearney Procurement & Analytic Solutions unit. She also spent five years at A.T. Kearney consulting primarily to financial services companies on topics that ranged from strategic planning to procurement cost reduction to back-office operations. Before joining A.T. Kearney, Sarah was in business development at one of the largest commercial banks in the country. Sarah has held numerous leadership positions on non-profit boards promoting children, women, and educational issues, and has specific expertise in membership development, fundraising, and strategic development. Sarah has a BA from Furman University and an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA.