In just a few weeks, I’ll be joining over 500 benefit professionals in Phoenix for the 33rd Annual ISCEBS Employee Benefits Symposium. I always enjoy learning from the sessions at the Symposium, but there’s another reason I look forward to the event each year—people time. I return to the office after the Symposium feeling energized and inspired by the group of benefit professionals I get to interact with each year. With the Symposium, it’s easy to interact—Below are my tips to ensure you return home with strengthened professional relationships and at least a few new connections.
Given my role as Social Business Strategist for the International Foundation, I jump at any chance to use social media. But it’s important to remember that social media is a tool, not a substitute for strengthening connections—Nothing beats real face-to-face interaction. Talking with peers in person enriches the entire conference experience and helps build relationships that continue throughout the year. You’ll notice that the Symposium weaves social interaction throughout the program. Connecting with others comes naturally with this engaged group of benefits professionals!
Here are my suggestions for getting social at this year’s Symposium:
- Tweet—Be part of the conference buzz on Twitter with conference hashtag #14Symp. Symposium attendees share preconference excitement, interesting information from sessions, conference photos and more. Stop at the registration desk to ask for a Twitter ribbon to put your Twitter handle on your name badge so others will know to follow you.If you haven’t yet started using Twitter, the Symposium will be a great place to start! Not sure what Twitter is all about? Check out the conference Twitter feed on the monitor in the registration area.
- Celebrate—The Symposium starts off Sunday night at 5:00 with a ceremony to recognize new graduates of the CEBS® program as well as new GBA, RPA and CMS designees and those earning ISCEBS fellowship for the first time. Show your support by attending the ceremony and stay for the celebration afterward at the CEBS Conferment Reception. All Symposium attendees are welcome to attend with a guest.
- Eat—Make the most of your meal times. We’ll be serving social opportunities for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Breakfast—Start your Monday morning with the Social Media Breakfast—Look for designated tables for ISCEBSLink listserve users and the Tweet Up table where Twitter users can meet the person behind the Twitter handle. Both tables are a great place to ask experienced users how to get started.
Lunch—Monday’s luncheon will have designated tables for discussion on a variety of benefit topics. Share experiences with your peers on a topic of your choice.
Dinner—Forget room service. Join a group of fellow attendees Sunday and/or Tuesday night for dinner with a Sign and Dine option. The ISCEBS Phoenix Chapter has planned a great selection of local restaurants. Select one and sign up in the registration area.
- Mingle—Monday evening’s welcome reception at 6:00 is a perfect way to unwind after your first full day of sessions. I know what you might be thinking—Conference receptions are boring and even awkward, especially if you’re traveling alone. We’ll make it easy to interact with a simple people-meeting activity. But you’ll find you really won’t need any help. This is a friendly crowd. Don’t miss it.
- Move—Set your alarm and start Tuesday with some exercise. Join other attendees for a casual fun run or walk before the day’s sessions and the heat of the Phoenix sun.
- Stay connected—As you meet new people throughout the program, collect contact information so you can stay connected after the Symposium. Use the conference app’s attendee list feature and/or connect on social media.
I hope to have the chance to be social with you at the Symposium. Before you head to Phoenix, be sure to follow @iscebs and @ifebp on Twitter. And send out a tweet to let others know you’ll be at #14Symp.
Follow Ann Godsell on Twitter at @AnnGodsell.