There’s no question that Frost & Sullivan conferences are different. They’re specifically and intentionally designed to be that way. And thank goodness for that. While Frost events don’t go as far as the free-spirited “un-conferences” put on by ProductCamp, where the lineup of presentations is established at the beginning of the day based on popular vote, Frost events are far more focused on networking with your peers, hands-on workshops, and deep learnings instead of the usual death-by-PowerPoint. Given that the 11th Annual NPI&D Mind Exchange will be my ninth Frost & Sullivan event, I thought I’d share a few Frost & Sullivan conference tips on how to get the most out of your time in La Jolla, California come January.
- Carefully Plot Your Course!
As part of your conference registration, you were asked to select which sessions you want to attend across multiple tracks. If you didn’t take the time then, do it once you arrive to make sure you’re selecting the sessions that will address topics you want to explore and that will help you move your new product development initiatives forward. And don’t be afraid to switch session from the ones you registered for if five minutes into the presentation you realize it isn’t covering the topic you had hoped. TO EARN 10 BONUS POINTS: If you are attending with colleagues, be sure to divide and conquer across the different tracks AND sit at different tables at lunch. Sharing the nuggets you picked up in the different sessions over cocktails will help cement your knowledge.
- Come with Questions!
On the plane ride or drive into the gorgeous hills of La Jolla, take a few minutes to take stock of your current innovation program. How are things going? Are you achieving your innovation strategies? Launching new products on time? Hitting financial forecasts? What questions would you pose to more experienced innovation experts? WRITE THESE QUESTIONS DOWN! For real. By taking a moment to state your intention on what you want to learn, I guarantee you will walk away with helpful answers you can begin implementing once you’re back in the office. TO EARN 35 BONUS POINTS: If you don’t even know where to start with this assessment, check out Planview’s Innovation Management Maturity Model to define your current state and desired end state.
- Prepare to Network!
Whatever you do – be sure to pack your business cards…a lot of them! The name of the game at a Frost conference is connecting. It’s about building relationships with attendees, industry experts, and event sponsors. Networking is how you will get the answers to your questions above – it’s magic how this works! (And for my fellow introverts, I know it can be hard to put yourself out there in this type of environment, but I promise the pay-off of meeting some fun people is worth it!) TO EARN 10 BONUS POINTS: Take two minutes at the end of the day to write a short note on LinkedIn to the one person you met that day with whom you really clicked. (Subtract 50 points if you click the connect button without a personal note!)
- Stay Engaged
It goes without saying, but it absolutely must be said: BE FULLY PRESENT! The room layout for the majority of the sessions at Frost is that of round tables to encourage participation and conversation. It’s just part of their DNA. Many sessions will include group discussions and worksheets – there’s simply no time to multi-task. And without PowerPoint presentations where you can just snap a picture of slide, you will need to take notes to capture those “ah-ha” moments. TO EARN 25 BONUS POINTS: This is a tough challenge, I know. But I’m confident you’re up to the task. Only check your email on coffee/lunch breaks – that is only three times during normal business hours. Can you do it?
- You Must Be Present to Win!
Frost builds fun and prizes into everything they do. And as an adult, who doesn’t want to win some pretty awesome free things? Between the Solutions Wheel, Planview’s Captain’s Table, and the Casino Night, you can leave with some pretty great loot! But as the saying goes…you must be present to win! TO EARN 100 BONUS POINTS: Come say hello to me at the conference at the Planview table or in my session called Benchmarking Success: Analytics, KPI’s, and Metrics for Innovation Management and mention this blog post to cash in your bonus points for some fun prizes. And before you even ask, you must show your work!
I’m really looking forward to seeing you all in January and hope these tips have you feeling prepared and exited to make the most of your time at the Frost & Sullivan NPI&D Mind Exchange. See you there!