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On Monday I shared a few post-Catalyst Dallas reflections on what not to do at a conference. Today, I bring you a more positive spin. Here are four things I try to do when I?m wearing one of those magical conference lanyards:

Shake some hands?
Seth Godin once said the best part of a conference is the hallway, not the auditorium. In other words, don?t get so caught up in who?s onstage that you forget to make new connections and strengthen existing connections out in the lobby. Over the years, the conference talks fade, but I?ve met people at conferences who?ve become collaborators, coworkers, and good friends to this day.?

If you?re not going to take advantage of the hallway at a conference, you should seriously consider just staying home and ordering the DVD set.

Analyze and don?t analyze
I think the most rewarding conference experiences happen we we?re disciplined about when to be analytical and when to turn off that part of our brains. There?s a time to analyze the programming and a time to just be present with it. There?s a time to analyze what a speaker is doing (and why) and a time to just listen. There?s a time to analyze lighting and imagery and a time to just worship. As we find a healthy balance here, we truly get the most out of a conference.

In Monday?s post about what not to do at a conference, I focused on the ways in which we can confuse the conference context with our church context ??we can?t let ourselves fall into the trap of trying to recreate the conference on a Sunday. But that doesn?t mean we shouldn?t look for elements and ideas to recreate or incorporate into what we?re doing. Cherry-pick the best bits of wisdom, strategy, creativity, and innovation, and then go home and contextualize them. When you leave a conference, you should have a list of things you?re excited to try as soon as you get back to the lab.?

As you process through all the people you met, all the analyzing you did, and the ideas you cherry-picked, be sure to debrief with at least one other person. It could be a coworker who attended the conference with you or it could be a friend who wasn?t even there. Just try your best to articulate what you learned, what you were challenged by, and what gets you excited. If you end your debrief by identifying some next steps, you?ll be that much more ahead.?

What about you? I know you?ve got a conference pro tip or two ?



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