Three Reasons to Make the Fall Expo a Priority

The Fall ERE Expo is less than three months away (Oct 26-28 in Hollywood, FL to be precise). Maybe you’re thinking about coming, but you’re still firmly straddling that fence. Maybe you’ve already ruled it out. In either case, here are three reasons why you need to make this a priority.

Take Time to Think Strategically

Years ago when attending a week-long management development class in the foothills west of Denver, I had the chance to participate in an interesting exercise. We were told to “go outside, walk around, and think strategically.” For the next hour, I meandered around in a daze, and my brain started to hurt. Was I really thinking strategically? How did I know for sure? Was I confusing tactics for strategy? What would I report on to the class when the exercise was over? Would others laugh at me and say “THAT’S NOT STRATEGIC!” Well, you get the idea.

In the end, the point of this exercise was simply that if you don’t separate yourself from the day-to-day minutia of your job (and life), it’s really hard to take a step back and think strategically.

During my career, I’ve attended seven ERE Expos (side note … I should propose a “Frequent Attender” loyalty program: attend nine conferences, get the 10th free!). Anyway, each one gave me a great opportunity to step away from the day-to-day craziness of running a recruiting team and deeply reflect on what we were doing, and where we were going. From personal experience, I can tell you that sitting on a beautiful beach in South Florida is a great place to do this reflection.

Here are three suggestions to get you started on your beachside strategic thinking:

  1. What is my vision for my team (or myself) for the next one to three years? Have I articulated it to others? Can I even articulate it?
  2. What are the top three things we (I) need to focus on to make this vision a reality?
  3. How will I know that we’ve (I’ve) achieved the vision? Write down specific outcomes (preferably measureable) that you are shooting for.

Give yourself the gift of a little time away to think strategically. The ocean waves are calling out your name.

Build Your Professional Network

One of the absolute best things about attending an ERE event — OK, the best thing about attending an ERE event — is the people you meet. ERE has allowed me to develop a deep professional network of people who I can call on for ideas, a quick sanity check, or just plain old commiserating (“hey, you’ll never believe this…” stories) to share a laugh. Plus, this is a great place to socialize your new-found vision that you formed on the beach (see point #1 above). “Hey, I was walking on the beach last night and was thinking about … what do you think?”

When you attend, set a goal — not just to collect business cards, but to make quality connections. If you make five or more quality connections in a three-day event, I would consider that a solid success.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to be proactive. If there are people you want to meet — maybe one or two of the ERE faculty, or someone from a company that you respect, or someone in your industry — reach out to them ahead of time and let them know that you would appreciate the chance to meet with them, and why. This can pave the way for a productive face-to-face greeting/meeting in Florida. (Based on my experience, I would suggest that offering to buy a coffee or an adult beverage will likely increase your probability of success!)

Lastly, please don’t repeat the mistake I made several years ago. I was so heads-down/focused on my day job, that when my position got eliminated I felt very vulnerable because I had let my network go; it was weak, to say the least. I had spent all my energy for the corporate-good but hadn’t devoted much of it to my own good. It doesn’t take a lot of time to keep this in better balance, and for a recruiter, ERE Expo is a great place to start this rebalancing process.

Which is a nice segue to my final point …

Be Intentional About Your Personal Development

Similar to #2, it is way too easy to focus on your job, your team, your boss and your organization — and not take time for you. Nearly everyone has faced major challenges the last two years with global economic struggles (smaller budgets, bigger workloads, etc.) that have inhibited the time and dollars dedicated to personal development.

Get a copy of the conference agenda and circle in red which sessions are likely to have the most benefit to you. No need to wait until you’re there. Plan it out ahead of time. If time and/or money are an issue, then write down a simple business case and present it to your leadership. Show them what you want to attend, and how it will benefit your organization. Most leaders will respond positively to a well-constructed case. And then book early to save dollars.

Once you’re at the conference, write down your key takeaways from each session and share them with others. When I send members of my team to a conference, I expect them to develop a PowerPoint presentation to teach others. This solidifies the learning and increases the commitment to personal improvement/change.

Be intentional about building a better you. Then pass it on.

If you have any questions or comments, please respond to this post, or feel free to email me at tony.blake@davita.com. My next post will be “Tony’s Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Conference Experience.” I hope to see you in Florida in about 12 weeks.

Source: ERE Articles