My team and I just returned from our annual SYNERGY users’ conference in Nashville. During our post-event debrief, we got to chatting about what makes the best conference experience for someone. And of course, as so often happens, that got me thinking even more about conferences, which sparked me to write this blog article so I could share my thoughts with you and get your input on what makes a great conference experience for you.
To me, SYNERGY is all about learning — product updates, new products — and about making new contacts. It’s a time to expand your network, learn the latest in technology, and explore the best and newest ways to build your firm.
When I send my team to a conference to learn about new trends, I chat with them first to ensure we’ll get the most out of the event. I don’t want them wasting time in areas we can easily take advantage of while we’re in the office.
Most conferences have a lot of different activities going on at once, and SYNERGY is no exception. So if you aren’t paying attention, it can be all too easy to miss the most valuable opportunities.
To give you an idea of how much there is to take in, here’s just a partial list of what attendees experienced at the 2017 SYNERGY:
- Learning Booth — This busy booth, the home of the Practice Forward team, offered all kinds of implementation ideas. Visitors to the booth who weren’t familiar with Practice Forward came away with an interest in and appreciation of this powerful thought leadership offering, which presents an unmatched opportunity to learn about growing a business from both Thomson Reuters staff and firm partners.
- Innovation Booth — What’s going on in the industry, now and in the years to come? That’s a question on everyone’s mind at SYNERGY, and this year we had lots of visitors stop by the Innovation Booth to find out. Here at Thomson Reuters we’re constantly trying out the trends, and since the most valuable part of that experience is your input, the Innovation Booth was a great way for us to connect with you and your team.
- UX Team — Also at SYNERGY was our User Experience (UX) Team, which could be found everywhere around the conference. This team exists to understand how you work and how our products and services can work for you. SYNERGY offered the perfect opportunity for users and the UX Team to collaborate, so we can keep your needs and problems top of mind as we develop our products throughout the year.
- Networking/connecting — Conferences are all about the chance to network and learn from other practitioners, so from the Welcome Reception to the Roundtables to the Friday night event, there were a number of opportunities available to this year’s SYNERGY attendees. We always advise those who are there on their own and want to meet other attendees to find a Thomson Reuters employee, because we all love to help people connect!
Tactical Questions/Problem Solving
- Product booths — Each product family had a separate booth this year, to give attendees the opportunity to take a deeper dive into understanding the ways our products work together. Accounting, for example, has several different solutions based on the size of a firm and its accounting needs, so the chance to explore the product families more thoroughly helped a number of users find the solution that worked best for their firm.
- Training sessions — Every year, we offer so many workshops — both hands-on and lecture — that help attendees pick up in-depth product knowledge. This isn’t necessarily a thought leadership type of activity, but the return on the conference investment can be priceless for those who need help with training.
As you invest the time and money to attend SYNERGY and other conferences throughout the year, be sure to do your homework so you can ensure that the time you spend there is worthwhile — and will be helpful to you and your staff when you return to the office. Look for what’s unique in each conference you attend, for what you can’t pick up anywhere else.
And if you’d like to get a head start (and save!) on SYNERGY 2018 registration, visit our SYNERGY website to register and check out SYNERGY 2017 highlights.
What have you found particularly useful at conferences you’ve attended? If you were at SYNERGY this year, what was on your must-do list? Let us know in the comments below.