The ASTD Techknowledge Conference is little more than two months away, and I’m really excited for this year’s event. This year’s conference has outstanding programming from well known experts, as well as brand new voices that you may not have heard before, but should definitely listen to.
If you’ve never attended TechKnowledge, there are a number of things you can do BEFORE the event that can help you get more out of the conference.
Tip #1: Plan…
Techknowledge is a fairly large conference. There are over 1,000 attendees and over 100 educational sessions. Planning your experience is essential. Be sure to check out the session listings, and the program guides and conference app once they are available. Choose at least two sessions that interest and stretch you for each time slot, and plan your agenda.
I suggest selecting two sessions for each time slot for two main reasons. First, session rooms are available on a first-come-first-served basis, and there are sessions that wind up closing out. If you approach a door and the session you are looking for is closed, you want to have a backup ready. Secondly, there may be sessions that you’re attending that may not hit the mark on what you expected reading the description. If that’s the case, you don’t want to waste your time sitting in a session that isn’t creating value. Having a backup set makes it easy to switch.
Planning is important for all attendees, and I think it is essential for new attendees. The scale of the event alone can be overwhelming, so having a plan helps. Newcomers might also consider attending the Newcomers Orientation, scheduled for 7:15-8:00 the opening day of the conference.
Tip #2: Don’t Over-plan.
This may sound counter-intuitive to Tip #1, but it’s incredibly important. Planning is important so that you are prepared to maximize your time at TechKnowledge. Being flexible with your plan is critical to ensure you maximize your experience.
While the programming available at this year’s Techknowledge is outstanding, there’s a huge piece of the conference experience that doesn’t appear in the session listings: Building Connections.
As wonderful as the program content is at events like TechKnowledge, often my greatest takeaways do not come from within the walls of a session room. It’s often in the hallways of the conference that my most reflective moments happen, often during spontaneous conversations with people I may be meeting for the first time.
Conversations and connections with fellow attendees are hugely valuable. I have made connections at conferences that have been tremendous ongoing resources for continuous learning, and more importantly, become some of my dearest friends. If you’re having a great conversation with a colleague, allow yourself the flexibility to alter your plan to deepen the connections.
At this year’s conference, TechKnowledge is featuring a space for just these types of conversations. The dedicated space will be open and available to all attendees as a spot to connect and start or continue these valuable conversations.
Tip #3: Connect early and often
The ASTD Techknowledge Conference formally starts on Wednesday, January 30th. Your Techknowledge conference experience should actually begin much earlier.
TechKnowledge is an event that has a very vibrant backchannel. The backchannel takes place on Twitter, and is a place for attendees and those following the conference from afar to connect, share, and expand on the conference experience.
You can actually start connecting via the backchannel right now, by following the conference hashtag #ASTDTK13. Between now and the conference you’ll see tweets from speakers about their sessions, comments and tips from attendees, and other resources that expand on your conference experience. Most valuably, you’ll be able to connect with other attendees virtually before the conference, setting the stage for more meaningful connections once you meet face-to-face.
These are just three of many tips that can be shared. Do you have a great tip for getting more out of TechKnowledge? Feel free to share it in the comments.
See you in San Jose!