You’re slammed at work – way more to do than hours in the day, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better before year’s end. But there is a bright spot on your calendar – a short trip in just a few days to Washington D.C. for the PRSA 2014 International Conference.
A welcome respite and chance to recharge, no doubt.
I’ve attended many PRSA conferences through the years, and I can guarantee it will be time well spent. Here are a few tips for making “Leading the Way: A Fearless Future for PR” one of your best professional development experiences yet.
- Think differently — Determine you will identify at least three new ideas and meet the thought leaders behind them. Conferences are the perfect place to spot emerging trends and hear about unique approaches to challenges we all face. It’s particularly valuable to connect in person with those who are trying new things so you can have real dialogue with them. Many times those who offer a different point of view today become the thought leaders of tomorrow.
- Expand your network — Meet at least one person you don’t know in every session or event you attend. By conference end, you’ll have added 20 or more new contacts to your network. Don’t forget to follow up with each of them afterwards so you can solidify the connection and find ways to help these fellow professionals — and allow them to help you.
- Jumpstart your creativity — One of the biggest drawbacks to keeping heads-down at work is brain freeze, a condition that threatens to drive you from your work and potentially your career if you don’t find a cure. Finding fresh thinking at various conference sessions will give you the creative jump-start you so desperately need. A bonus: you’ll have time over the course of the conference to think about the many new ways you can apply these ideas now. And with 2015 planning well under way, you’ll find more ways to use them in the future.
- Dig deep — Data and analytics, insights-driven strategy, content marketing, crisis communications — all of us have at least one thing we need to get our arms around, and now. Conference is the perfect opportunity for you to go to school on one subject by picking several sessions all related to the same topic. I’ve gone to more than one conference on a mission, determined to come back with a clearer understanding of an area I needed to address. No matter what it is, chances are you’ll find it covered at international conference.
- Relax — Most of us never really take time off to unwind. But if you have extra time before or after conference, be sure to see D.C. There are so many sites to visit, and all of the major memorials are truly inspiring. The Smithsonian is one of my favorite destinations. This is a great way to renew and reflect, guaranteed to help you recharge in more ways than one.
I’m sure you’ll put in more than a few extra hours before leaving for D.C., but rest assured you have a treat waiting for you. Just be sure to make the most of all that awaits.
See you at conference!
Elise S. Mitchell, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the CEO of Mitchell Communications Group and CEO of Dentsu Public Relations Network.