Lots of the advice we hear about Convergence tends to revolve around planning prodigiously prior to the event. I agree wholeheartedly with this concept. There are so many things to do and see there that analyzing theagenda and the sessions, and organizing your own personalized schedule will generally result in a very productive and valuable few days at Convergence. This approach, however, could lead some to treat this conference as an event that is altogether too scripted. The beauty of Convergence, in fact, is what happens in between the checklist items.
Surveys that are filled out by Convergence attendees always rank networking as one of the top three most valuable benefits of the conference. And that networking occurs mostly randomly-in a conversation with a fellow attendee sitting next to you at a session, at a booth in the expo, in the community lounge while relaxing, or at night during one of the many parties. These interactions are where all the unexpected information is conveyed, where a chance meeting results in solving that nagging problem or dramatically improving your productivity.
Take CRM 2011, for example. We are all eagerly awaiting the abundance of information about CRM 2011 that will be available all conference long. I intend to go to many of the sessions and discussions concerning features and functionality, case studies, upgrade paths, etc. I do know, however, that our company’s strategy with CRM 2011 will be affected as much by what I will learn outside those sessions as within the formal settings. What better way is there to learn about relationship management software than through relationships?
My advice to those that ask me about Convergence is to plan ahead-and then go with the flow. Convergence will unfold in its own way, and all you need to do is be open to the networking opportunities that present themselves. Those connections may even result in you modifying your schedule to attend a session or event that you did not realize was right for you when you first compiled your agenda. Don't sweat it. That's what the conference is about. Just keep your eyes and ears open, meet new people, and let Convergence take you on your unexpected journey.