When I was a practitioner running a collaboration platform for a large accountancy firm, I wish I had gone to more professional conferences. Those organised on themes such as intranets, collaboration and knowledge management would have all been very useful. Yes, I went to a few events here and there, but a more focused effort would have given me a broader perspective on what I was doing inside the company and also sparked some valuable ideas.
As a consultant I still need to get that exposure to ideas, insights and inspiring people and conferences are one of the best ways to get this all in one hit. Thankfully there is now a greater choice of intranet, digital workplace and digital communications conferences than ever before, with a range of prices.
I really enjoyed the Intranet Now conference in October in London and now I’m genuinely thrilled to be speaking at one of the best intranet conferences in Europe, the IntraTeam event at Copenhagenorganized by Kurt and his team. I’m not only excited about speaking, but also looking forward to being an attendee, with a great line-up of speakers.
If you haven’t been to an intranet or related conference before, here are five ways in which these types of events can give you value.
In some respects, being in the intranet or ESN function in an organisation can be a lonely business because you may be in a team of one. Moreover, few of your colleagues actually understand what you do.
Intranet conferences allows you to network with other intranet managers who are in the same boat as you. They understand where you are coming from, and it’s a great feeling to discover colleagues from other organisations. One of my favourite aspects of my work has been meeting some great people at various intranet and digital workplace-related events. It’s a pretty laid-back industry and the vast majority of people within it, from practitioners to consultants to vendors, are very nice.
Depending on your level of experience, area of focus and how many other events you go to, you’re bound to learn some new things when you’re at a conference. This might be a new approach, a clever technique or a new perspective.
I’m not going to pretend that you’re going to learn something new from every presentation, but there is usually enough detail about the speakers and agenda to select a conference which is going to deliver useful insights for you.
As you may know, my involvement in the Intranet Innovation Awards, means I do love a good case study. I’m particularly interested to hear what other intranet and digital workplace teams have delivered and where they have succeeded. In my experience these examples can give inspiration to other intranet teams, helping them raise the bar and their level of ambition.
Avoiding tunnel vision
When you’re the lead person on an intranet or an ESN you can get very bogged down in the day to day running of the intranet. You might actually be responsible for strategy, but your focus is continually operations. It’s really easy to develop tunnel vision. Getting out of the office and talking to other intranet or collaboration folk is the best antidote to this. Sometimes just having some space to think is what you need.
When at an intranet conference you can get some feedback on your efforts, either as a speaker or just by talking to people. It’s the sort of place you can show off wireframes, screenshots or even a live tour of your intranet and get constructive feedback from people who know about what they’re talking about. This isn’t always possible within your own organisation.
There’s lots of intranet conferences out there in 2016 and if you do attend one, I hope it delivers a valuable experience. Perhaps, see you there?