With the sheer number of ‘learning and networking’ events being run in every sector my intention is to help you find the many good events among the plentifully bad and the numerous down-right ugly! You have to find innovative events, the search is well worth it!

There are a lot of cutting edge ‘conference style’ events happening in 2013 and I urge everyone to seek out the ones that do things differently. Looking for the events which have some of these event trends in 2013 will point you in the right direction.

Event Trends

Events are the most wonderful place to consume the latest information in a truly unique environment shaped by every attendee. They can be bespoke and truly memorable experiences while harnessing the best in human nature. The value of face-to-face contact cannot be underestimated so do not write off events: just be aware of the bad and the ugly and use our list to avoid them.

Here are ten things to look out for. If the event you are considering attending isn’t doing at least half of these things then that is a sign that it may not be the event for you! 

What the innovative events will be doing and what events to attend

1. The use of content marketing. If an event you plan to attend just uses messages like “must attend event” or the equally ubiquitous “unique networking opportunities” be very skeptical. I would wager that it won’t be the former and won’t provide the latter! The event to attend will be enticing you by demonstrating and proving the quality of the content and the uniqueness of the networking way before you actually attend the event. Content marketing ensures the event “proves” rather than simply pretends. Searching for content marketing will help you find innovative events.

2. Events which concentrate on the right audience using audience curation. This is so important especially as many events increase the amount of peer-to-peer learning to add value to participants. Here’s some more useful info on audience curation.

3. The organiser paying / training / providing great support to speakers. I believe that you should not attend a decent sized event that has not offered to properly support, or pay the people in charge of delivering the learning. As I am sure you will agree, when you pay people it generally tends to increase the amount of time they commit and the quality!

4. Conferences which include meeting design. At these events you are likely to learn more and have the right conversations. The event will be designed as an experience. Within the learning you will see a variety of session types, different durations and a great mix of learning and networking environments.

5. Conferences where attendees have the opportunity to be “participants”. If you are planning to attend an event and you haven’t had the opportunity to influence the programme or even better, the opportunity to directly contribute, then do consider avoiding the event. Events are for you so your input is crucial! 

6. Social Media playing a much more active role in the event. Events and social media is a marriage made in heaven. Organisers should encourage engagement from all the stakeholders as social media can add value to everyone. If the event you are considering attending isn’t using social media to add value to your attendance I would question if you can be sure there will be value in other areas?

7. Conferences structuring delegates learning and networking before, during and after. The organsier should be helping you learn and network before, during and after the event. The event has to have a longer “shelf life” than its’ physical duration. 

8. Something unique! Anything! Even if it’s that smallest thing that looks different. Just a hint of tailoring of the event is a good indication that a lot more thought has gone into the other elements of the event.

Innovative Badges

Reused floppy discs for badges.

9. Conferences that announce the majority of their content months before the event. If this doesn’t happen it means that rather than honing fantastic, unique and dynamic content they have been doing something which they obviously consider much more important.

10. Have exciting promotional material. If the event is using marketing material that has, for example, a picture of the destination city rather than any imagery that relates to the actual conference theme, taking a wide berth is recommended. If they use a traditional four page A4 brochure this smacks of the “production line approach” to your event. Avoid these events.

Make the most of the events you attend

My advice, as a consultant who sees under the bonnets of hundreds of events every year, is this – if you aren’t seeing more than half of the things on this list then think very seriously about attending that event. You have to find innovative events.

Seek out the innovative events and attend them. These events will be worth it.