Annual meeting and convention season is upon us. These conferences are excellent opportunities to discover new trends, connect with industry colleagues, hear great speakers, and pick up impressive gadgets from the exhibition hall. As with every investment, the goal is a return greater than the expenditure. As you and your associates prepare to attend conferences this year, consider some of these thoughts to gain maximum value and return.
- Determine a few issues where you want to deepen your understanding. What new trends interest you? What credit union leaders would you like to meet and converse? What lines of business might your credit union expand or explore? When you attend the conference with specific intent, your thinking will gravitate toward ideas and concepts that fit with what you need most.
- Hold the mindset that, “Ideas for success are in this conference room.” Listen to conversations. Ask questions to expand your understanding. Add insights where you can contribute value. Look for opportunities that provide new impressions into how your credit union can best serve members and deliver sound financial results.
- If feasible, have someone attend every general and breakout session. Task each person with taking notes, looking for information that may be of interest for the credit union to explore. During a debrief session (a bullet point you’ll see below), your team can ascertain the business value and if any actions are necessary.
- Hold a debrief session at the end of each day to discuss what ideas, models, and examples stood out from the others. Was your business model reinforced? Did you discover refinements that may create more success? Is it time to introduce a new product, service, market, or process to your business plan?
- Sit with someone from another credit union. It’s effortless to have your entire team occupy a row or table. But, often, more value comes from discussions with other credit unions going about their business in different (and sometimes better) ways. These conversations introduce potential enhancements to your initiatives and expand your professional network for the future. These new connections also make for outstanding sounding boards after the conference.
- Don’t put every idea into action. It’s a common fear that ideas learned at conferences cause credit unions to lose focus and chase the shiny object of the quarter. But, ignoring new ideas doesn’t inevitably cause existing plans to improve by leaps and bounds. Instead, choose the concepts that support your existing strategy and use them to improve execution. The other ideas? Put them in the “Parking Lot” (they may be good ideas, but for later) and accept that saying “No” for now helps you focus on where you intend to continue saying “Yes.”