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5 Tips to Maximize Conference ROI

Maximize Conference ROI

The NAA Education Conference & Exposition starts tomorrow! Have you made the investment to send your employees to the Conference? Yes, I said investment. Sending employees to the conference is an investment in them. The NAA Education Conference is the apartment housing industry’s premier event, but the value of the conference is dependent upon how much each attendee takes away and applies to their job. How do you maximize your return on the investment?

In the absence of clearly stated expectations, it is easy for a conference attendee to become distracted by the excitement of being in a new city, or just getting a break from the normal grind of their work day. Certainly, employees can expect to have some fun, but companies must ensure that the fun does not prevent them from accomplishing whatever their objectives are for sending them to the conference in the first place. Prior to attending the conference, establish expectations by doing a bit of conference planning with them.

Education

Education is the main focus of the conference. General session keynote speakers, game-changers and education sessions cover a wide variety of topics. Visit www.naahq.org/educonf for details.
•    Review the conference schedule
•    Determine which sessions your employees will attend based on individual development and company needs
•    If you have several team members in attendance, encourage them to go to different sessions in order to get the maximum information possible.
•    Discuss specific learning objectives

Exhibit Hall

The Exhibit Hall gives attendees the opportunity to see hundreds of suppliers all in one place. While not all attendees are their company’s respective purchasing decision-maker, time at the Exhibit Hall should include more than collecting a bag of giveaways and registering for prize drawings.
•    List specific goods or services on which you would like attendees to gather information Connect with vendors who you currently use who you may not get to see face to face
•    Assign to each attendee the task of identifying one product or service you currently do not use that they feel would be of value to your organization

Networking

If sending a group of employees to the conference, there is the tendency for them to stick together. This is a great chance for them to discuss challenges and share best practices, but they should also be encouraged to network outside of their workgroup. Connecting with others in the industry provides different perspectives on many issues. Residential property management is an industry where business relationships are key.
•    Is there a property or company challenge that you would like to learn how others’ have handled?
•    Are you considering making a change to a product or where it would be helpful to determine what suppliers others’ are using and what their experience has been?
•    Is your company expanding into a new market and you need regional or demographic information?

Managing Your Conference Plans

There’s an app for that! Download the 2016 NAA Education Conference & Exposition app, which makes it is easy to manage all conference commitments. You can select the education sessions and events you will attend, schedule meetings with vendors, as well as record any other reminders that will help you navigate the conference. It is available now, so you can start with your planning right away!

Schedule Follow Up

The best way to ensure that attendees meet the expectations you have discussed is to schedule appropriate follow-up. You may want to do a daily check in, or wait until all return to work to discuss the entire conference experience.
The key is to communicate when the follow up will occur and the method for follow up prior to the conference. Once conference objectives are set, the follow-up should be a discussion of the conference experience, what was learned, and what the next steps are for implementation.
Remind them: the NAA Education Conference & Exposition is an opportunity to expand and improve on their RPM career. If you are the attendee, look at it as an investment in your future. If you are a supervisor sending your employees, view it as an investment in the company. And remember, a good investment produces a strong ROI!

By Susan Sherfield, National Education Director for Mercy Housing, Atlanta.