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Make the most of project management conferences

Season of mists and many conferences as it is in this part of the northern hemisphere, we thought we’d pass on some tips that would ensure you get your money’s worth from project management conferences wherever you are in the world.

  1. Make the case for attending. At a time of scary budget cuts you’ve got to be able to justify paying out hundreds of pounds to attend a conference. Assess the benefits, costs, and so on. Scan the conference website, follow its Twitter feed and consult colleagues in the office and online to gauge its value.
  2. Outline the outcome you want. It’s too easy to drift at conference so make sure that you establish specific goals before you go by asking yourself some questions. What do you need to get from the conference? What does your team need? What does the company need?
  3. Time to schedule. Until we know if those CERN guys are right about "neutrinos", we’re stuck with time travelling forwards so plan which presentations, meetings and workshops to attend. Factor in free periods to take up unexpected offers and get a seating plan if possible to plot an escape route if a presentation is irrelevant - an aisle seat at the back is usually a good spot!
  4. Do your homework. Assess the quality of the speakers and exhibitors. Work out who you want to engage with and what level of connection you want to make. Conference-based social media, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn groups on project management will give contact and background details so that you can communicate appropriately with them.
  5. Build bridges for communication. Avoid the anonymity of the conference crush. Use social media to introduce yourself and to forge a relationship before the event in order that you can suggest meeting for coffee, cake and, of course, a chat at the event. Look up old contacts and cultivate new ones: sit with strangers, talk in the elevator - mingle. ILX will be at this year’s APM Conference showing how training and development can improve project success, call us to arrange a meeting or just drop by and say hello.
  6. Converse with a purpose. Focus on three or four topics of conversation in face-to-face encounters. Keep an ear out for emerging developments and an eye out for relationships that you may want to get involved in. Jot down salient details of all encounters; you’ll be amazed how much stuff can go in one ear and out the other.
  7. Conference questions. Don’t be a wallflower in the conference hall; get yourself seen and heard by following these tips. Write down your question, keep it short, keep it to the point and keep it friendly; sit in an aisle seat so that you can catch the eye early of the people with the microphone and so that they can get to you easily.
  8. Sign up and get involved. General workshops and special interest group sessions are great forums for meeting new people, holding serious discussions, learning new techniques and exchanging stories. Better still build your reputation by offering to be a presenter, facilitator, moderator or even panellist where you can share your views and experiences at the same time as publicising your company’s merits.
  9. Don’t miss out on demos. These can be fun, informative and a great way of trying the latest gadgets and programmes. On the ILX stand at this years 20th October APM Conference will be Debbie Sharples and Steve Webster – here we will be showcasing our e-learning solutions, including updates to our exclusive ‘Getting Started with APMP’ e-learning. Visitors will have the opportunity to sample our e-learning products, whilst also being able to discuss any learning requirements with our dedicated ILX representatives. You will find us at Stand 7, where visitors will also be able to benefit from a number of exclusive offers.
  10. Include your team. Budget restrictions may mean that your whole team can’t go to a conference but thanks to social media like Twitter, there’s no reason they can’t join in to some degree and share the benefits.
  11. Review the event. A post-conference call or meeting with the whole team can help you thrash out lessons learned, what you would do differently another time and whether the conference was worth the money.
  12. Be prepared. Like all good scouts it pays to be prepared so you don’t forget the obvious. Before the conference, pack pens, paper, notes, mobile phones, iPads, laptops (with the right chargers!) and business cards. Sort out somewhere to store the cards and any hand-outs you may get. At the conference, keep a running list of key ideas, insights, action items and contacts for you and for your final report to your team. After the conference, deliver on promises to contact or report back to people and thank people for any help they have given. Enjoy!

    Useful Links

A selection of upcoming conferences

  • APMG China Annual Conference 2011, 14 October 2011, Shanghai, China
  • APM Project Management Conference 2011, Thursday 20 October, The Brewery,
  • Chiswell Street, London, EC1Y 4SD
  • PMI® Global Congress 2011—North America, 22–25 October 2011, Gaylord Texan
  • Resort & Convention Center, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, USA
  • itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition 2011, 7 – 8 November, Novotel, London West
  • BPUG Annual Members Conference, 23 - 24 November 2011, Doubletree By Hilton, Milton Keynes Stadium
  • Project Conference 2012 (Microsoft), 19 – 22 March, 2012, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
  • Change Management 2012, Monday April 16 - Tuesday April 17 2012, Radisson
  • Admiral Hotel - Toronto Harbour front, Toronto, Ontario
  • 12th Annual ICPMA Conference (International Construction Project Management Association), 31 May - 1 June 2012, Porto, Portugal

General Information

  • For a complete picture of PRINCE2 and what it can do, head to the OGC (Office of Government Commerce). Please see note below about changes to the OGC website.
  • The PRINCE2 Downloads page has a wealth of information for every project manager.
  • ILX Group deliver PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner e-learning, classroom and blended learning to suit every situation.
  • The APMG provides a slew of useful information about PRINCE2 accredited training options if you’re not yet PRINCE2 certified.
  • The PRINCE2 e-learning experience may be the perfect option for those with an eye for cost-effective, rich and collaborative training that includes a blog, a forum and social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • If your company wants to implement PRINCE2 training ILX Connect would be a great option as it will help them through the process.
  • ILX Consulting takes the concept of support to the next level. From maturity assessments and organisational health-checks, through ITIL, MSP and PRINCE2 implementation, to programme and project performance management, it has a proven record of delivering tangible improvements in capability, productivity and customer satisfaction to a wide range of businesses and organisations.
  • Note: The OGC website will cease to exist from 1st October 2011. Any new information will be published on the Cabinet office website: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/. All information currently on the OGC website will be available on the National Archives website:

    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100503135839/http://www.ogc.gov.uk/index.asp. Queries or questions should be sent to website@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk.