Saul Kaplan: You Don’t Have to Go to a Conference to Enjoy It
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
As the host of a global innovation conference (BIF Collaborative Innovation Summit), I’ve been watching remote conference participation play out over the last 10 years and I’m convinced that it’s a good thing. Lets face it; professional conference goers are a pretty homogeneous bunch. But fortunately, social media platforms are enabling anyone with a web connection to join, breaking down the socio-economic barriers that limit the diversity and ultimate value of conference interactions. Attendees are sharing their experience, not to promote themselves or the event, but to increase engagement around new ideas and the likelihood of real action as a result.
Our conference, like most others, has become increasingly social throughout its 11-year history. When Twitter launched in 2006, we were able to start following conferences by following a hashtag, such as #BIF2015, which allowed both attendees and remote participants to easily find each other and to engage online. Conferences were slow to embrace remote access at first but many have come around with an increasing number of them, including ours, now providing live streaming video so remote participants can watch and listen to speakers in real time.
I spoke with Sandy Maxey (@sandymaxey) who participated in #BIF2015 from home by watching our live stream video and interacting with speakers and attendees directly using our hashtag. No one knew that she wasn’t at the actual conference. In fact, someone even tweeted to Sandy about meeting at the lunch break to which she replied, “But I’m not there!” Sandy is a self-professed introvert and when she does go to conferences in person, she always sits in the back of the room and seeks out corners during breaks to avoid the mad crush. Sandy said she prefers participating remotely because she can go at her own pace and it’s easier to access more contextual information from her computer at her desk than from a phone or tablet in a cramped auditorium seat. She then uses that information to connect outside ideas to what’s happening at the conference. Sandy also told me that after listening all day from home she can go for a run or dance in her living room to help process what she has learned.
The people who fully participate in our conference without showing up in person tend to follow these ten principles:
1.) Never think you don’t belong in the conference conversation because you aren’t there. Oftentimes people don’t even know the difference. And, who knows, you may be connecting with someone who also isn’t physically present.
2.) Don’t wait for the conference to start before you engage. A lot of the conversation begins weeks before the first presentation. And similarly, don’t stop engaging when the conference ends. The long tail of connection can often be longer than you think.
3.) Use the conference hashtag across social media platforms to dive fully into the active conversation and connect with others.
4.) Insert your point of view and experience into the conversation. Don’t just retweet or repost what speakers or attendees are saying.
5.) Sign up for live streaming whenever available and block out the time on your calendar to participate as if you were attending.
6.) Ask speakers questions via social media as if you’re there. You’ll be surprised by how many will answer because they aren’t only interested in connecting with people who are in the room.
7.) Don’t listen only to celebrity speakers. They’re not always the best, and you’ve likely heard their story before. Instead, read through presenters’ bios to find the most unusual background and topic. For a small investment of time you might actually learn something new.
8.) Don’t just listen to the speakers. Follow and contribute to the narrative thread emerging from the conference. The gold is in the grey areas between talks.
9.) Engage others in your network who might not be aware of the conference but belong in the conversation. Just cc them on tweets and invite them to join in.
10.) Suggest actions and possible collaboration opportunities directly into the conference conversation via social platforms. It’s not unusual for a remote participant to suggest an exciting new possibility for an idea mentioned from the stage.
Every year when I open the BIF summit, I remind attendees that this isn’t really about them or the speakers; it’s about catalyzing something bigger than any one of us. It’s about engaging and collaborating, not just with those lucky and rich enough to be in the room, but more importantly with those participating from outside. Conferences are more likely to have their intended impact when they are inclusive. If you’re an organizer, increase your surface area by engaging outside participants. If you’re an attendee, enrich your experience by sharing it with those of us not in the room. If you’re at home or in the office, take advantage of these real-time connections to get better faster. After all, it’s not about how many conference badges or business cards you collect, it’s about what you learn and do that matters.
This post originally appeared on the Harvard Business Review site here.
Related Slideshow: RI Business Rankings in US
See how Rhode Island stacked up.
Rhode Island has 2015's eighth highest insurance premium penalties for high risk drivers, according to a WalletHub report.
Rhode Island ranks fifth overall in the category of speeding over 20 mph annual premium increase at $482. While ranking third overall in the category of 2 accidents annual premium increase at $2,721.
Rhode Island ranks ninth overall under the reckless driving annual premium increase at $749.
Rhode Island has been ranked as the 8th most eco-friendly state in the country, according to a recent study by WalletHub.
Rhode Island ranks third in environmental quality and 16th in Eco-Friendly Behaviors Ran landing them in 8th overall.
RI is behind Washington and New Hampshire who are in the six and seven spots respectively, and in front of Connecticut and Hawaii who come in at the nine and ten spot.
Rhode Island is 2015's 4th Worst State to be a taxpayer, according to a recent WalletHub report.
Rhode Island ranks 48th of 51 with an average state and local tax price of $7,159 which is good for a 27% difference from the national average.
The states that are directly behind Rhode Island are Wisconsin at $7,159, Nebraska at $7,298 and Illinois at $7,719 for a 37% difference from the national average.
Rhode Island has the highest vehicle property taxes in the country, paying an average of $1,133 according to a report from WalletHub.
Virginia and Kansas are the two states just ahead of Rhode Island in the 49 and 50 spots, paying $962 and $905 respectively.
RI also ranks 42nd in average real estate tax, paying an average of $2,779, according to the WalletHub report.
WalletHub has ranked Rhode Island as the 7th worst state to be rich in in a recent in depth analysis of 2015's Best States to be Rich or Poor From a Tax Perspective.
On a scale with 1 being the best, and 25 being average, Rhode Island ranks 37th in low income earners, 42 in middle income earners and 45th in high income earners.
To see the full report, click here.
Providence-metro ranks at the bottom for job creation in 2014
Rhode Island has been ranked amongst the worst in job creation, according to a recent survey done by Gallup.
Gallup gives the Prov-metro area an index score of 23, the lowest score is the New York- New Jersey area with 20.
Salt Lake City, Utah and Austin-round Rock, Texas rank the highest with a score of 37.
The 2014 state rankings by Forbes has just been released and Rhode Island moved up two spots from #48 in 2013 to #46 in 2014.
What does Forbes say about RI's business environment"
After Michigan and Illinois, Rhode Island has experienced the third worst net migration out of its state in the country over the past five years. With a recent unemployment rate of 7.6%—lower than only Georgia and Mississippi—residents are leaving the state in search of jobs. Rhode Island has been stuck in the bottom five overall for six straight years. One plus: labor costs are 5% below the national average, which stands out in the expensive Northeast.
Findings from The State Business Tax Climate Index were released this morning by Tax Foundation which found Rhode Island to have the 45th best tax climate for businesses for 2015. The state's rank has not changed since last year after The Index analyzed 100 different tax variables in multiple categories.
Providence is the second worst city in America for small business, according to a new survey conducted by Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation.
More than 12,000 small businesses in 82 cities across the country participate in the survey. Providence received an overall "F" grade for small business friendliness.
Small Business Friendliness Grade: F
The Economist grades states on an A+ to F grading scale for its small business climate. Rhode Island is one of just 6 states to earn an "F" grade.
Overbearing bureaucracy and excessive licensing is stifling small business in America.
Forbes ranks each state in business costs, economic climate, and growth prospects. RI is third worst in 2013.
The most damning in the commentary:
After Michigan, Rhode Island has experienced the second worst net migration in the country over the past five years.
ChiefExecutive.net ranks each state in taxations and regulations, workforce quality, and living environment.
The most damning in the commentary:
Sky-high unemployment rate bespeaks continuing terrible business climate.
#46 Tax Foundation
Tax Foundation ranks each state in corporate tax rank, sales tax rank, and unemployment insurance tax rank.
Rhode Island and the other states in the bottom ten suffer from the same afflictions: complex, non-neutral taxes with comparatively high rates.
ALEC ranks each state in economic performance and outlook.
Although Rhode Island ranked low in economic performance, a forward-looking forecast is based on the state’s standing in 15 important state policy variables. Some of these variables include top marginal personal income tax rate and sales tax burden.
#47 Free Enterprise
Free Enterprise ranks each state in performance, exports, innovation + entrepreneurship, business climate, talent pipeline, infrastructure.
Rhode Island has continued to feel the direct impact and ripples from the recent recession—it ranks 47th overall in economic performance. However, positive rankings of 15th in talent pipeline and 16th in innovation and entrepreneurship suggest the existence of a foundation on which to build the future.
The Pew Charitable Trusts
#40 The Pew Charitable Trusts
The Pew Charitable Trusts ranks each state in job growth and job creation.
Rhode Island added 6,223 jobs in 2014.
10th Worst in Gallup's Annual Ranking of State Job Markets 2014
Rhode Island has been ranked 10th worst for job creation in Gallup's annual ranking of state job markets in 2014 with a job creation index number of 21
Rhode Island is one of two (Connecticut) states to rank in the bottom ten each year since 2008.
The 2014 State level findings have were drawn from 201,254 interviews with employed adults across the nation.
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