As I spend more time in higher ed, it seems like more and more conferences are popping up each year, with dozens happening across the world. That being said, it can be tricky in this industry to decide where to put your time and money when it comes to professional development and industry networking. Whether you’re working in leadership at an institution, or working on partnerships with institutions, the decision can sometimes be crippling. It can help to know beforehand how to make the best use of your time, and which events can be the most fruitful for your situation.
So what will make a good conference choice/experience for you? Here are some things to consider:
Do the research on any conference that you’re interested in. Ask around to industry peers and see if they’ve attended before. Did the presentations have a focus? Were the presenters focused on teaching and creating thought provoking discussions, or were they focused on trying to sell something proprietary?
As the number of conferences becomes more segmented, that segmentation will become more important as you choose where to spend your time and money. You want to make sure the audience and content are going to make sense for your situation, but don’t get caught in the chase of hedging yourself into a corner. If you spend your conference time in an echo chamber, with the same people in the same situation talking about the same topics, your professional growth is going to stagnate.
Are you interested in making more professional connections? I would advise that you go to widely attended conferences that align closely with your current role. Are you looking for new vendor partners? You should look for conferences with industry/service alignment that have an exhibit hall.
This might sound like a no-brainer, but entire offices easily get caught in a rut of going to a specific set of conferences each year, and don’t think about the purpose behind the trip. Write a list of goals, and pick conferences that align with those objectives.
Seriously, you are there to have fun too! No one wants to go to the conference with the lame bus ride to a Journey Cover Band. Avoid those.
With these tips in mind, next week RNL + Converge will be presenting at the annual GMAC conference in Denver. If you work at a business program, I hope to see you there. I’m incredibly excited about the Data Analytics presentation we’re bringing with our partners at Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, and in general I think that GMAC is a fantastic conference for the graduate business program space. It’s a very well attended conference, and this year they are expecting over 800 attendees. It’s a prime event for industry networking, and the content selection for presentations is top notch (if I do say so myself).
At the annual GMAC conference, you can expect data driven keynote presentations, in depth market research that’s aimed specifically at the graduate business school space, and compelling discussions about the reality of the enrollment/marketing drop the industry is currently facing. I have always come away from the GMAC conference with a bevy of relevant information, exciting new relationships and new insights to consider.
If GMAC 2019 checks all the boxes that I spoke about earlier, then I hope i’ll see you there next week.