Attending NAVUG Forum is exciting for many reasons: getting to see the future of the ERP package we have chosen for our companies, meeting and networking with other people who use that same solution for their organizations, and learning new ways to leverage those tools are just a few. How do you share this experience with the people at your company when you get back home to ensure you are able to return next year? By making sure to measure the return on investment you got for your company while you were there!
Start by making a list of what you want to accomplish while you are at the conference. Planning out what you want to accomplish in the three short days you are here is key.
- Who do you want to meet?
- What do you want to learn?
- What problems do you want to solve?
Make sure to involve others at your company when putting together your list. Are there things you could solve for them? Find out what the big picture is at your company. What is your organization planning to do in the next 3-5 years? What are their challenges technologically in order to meet those goals?
When you arrive at the conference, start to work the list. Take advantage of as many sessions as you can attend in your tracks, and pick and choose some sessions from other tracks that may be outside of your comfort zone. Get involved in networking activities. Bring plenty of business cards and be ready to use your smart phone to exchange information for the first time using QR code scanning! Make sure to stop by the help desk to get advice on more advanced challenges from partners who are volunteering their services during the conference as well as from Microsoft experts. Stop by the vendor hall to check out solutions you know you need and find some that you didn’t know you needed.
Before you get back home, review your time at the conference and what you accomplished. When you return to life back at the office, you’ll quickly forget, so write these things down. Once you’ve got your list together of what you’ve accomplished, both big and small, start to assign value to these things. Were you planning to take a class to learn that new thing? How much would the class have cost? Did you solve a problem at the help desk? What would that have cost you? How about that exchange of information you had with another user? They were able to help you think through a solution for something that would have taken you a few weeks or months to get to. How much time, and money, did having a solution now, instead of later, save you? How much is it worth to you that you can call them up three months from now to ask a clarifying question? Add up the numbers – I guarantee you’ve just justified the cost of attending NAVUG Forum.
Make sure to share what problems you solved, what things you learned, and how much money you saved your company by attending NAVUG Forum when you get back home. Set aside some time to discuss the vision for the future that inspired you with your executive team. Share your involvement with the user group by taking advantage of the free learning and networking opportunities they have and by showing your co-workers how they can also get involved throughout the year. Follow up with the contacts you made while you were at the conference. You will find this network of professionals invaluable in the future.
Hang on to that list. If you question the value of NAVUG Forum, or if someone else does, get out your list and look at the bottom line.
If you need a little more help in getting approval from your company for your NAVUG Forum attendance, the user group provides a great template to help you get started. Find it here: http://navugforum.com/justify-my-trip/
As one added incentive, just by reading this blog, you can get an extra $100 off your NAVUG Forum registration by using this promo code: NAVFIN04. This code can’t be used in combination with other offers.
I’ve attended NAVUG Forum for the last four years. I’ll be attending again in October 2012, and I’m bringing three coworkers with me this year. I’m looking forward to the conference already and I hope that you Meet Me There!