Technology has changed the world of conferences quite a bit over the last few decades. It wasn’t that long ago that there was little to no digital technology at a typical conference. Now, they are completely consumed by all of the digital wonders. There are many ways to utilize technology to have a strong presence at a conference or trade show. Here are eight ways that technology has completely transformed the world of conferences.
1. Credit Card Payments
For those selling thing at conferences, it used to be a bit of a gamble. Salespeople had to hope that the check or credit card someone was giving them was good. Now, they can instantly swipe a credit card on a mobile reader on their cellphones, receiving their payments instantly.
2. HDTV Displays
Booths have come a long way from the days of simple banners. Now, entire presentations can be constantly broadcast on a display at the booth. This makes it much easier for presenters to get out the information they need to attendees. HDTVs can be placed up high on a booth wall to ensure maximum exposure to the crowds, allowing attendees to see information about a booth from a long distance away.
3. Social Media
It has become so much easier to get in touch with someone that you meet at a conference. In the past, you had to take their business card, and then you would have to try to get in touch with them on the phone or send an email. Now, you can instantly connect via twitter, or facebook and have a way to easily get in touch again.
4. Mobile Event Apps
This is one of the coolest new developments at conferences. Attendees can download a mobile event app that will provide them with everything they possibly need to know about the conference or trade show they are attending.
5. Smartphones & Tablets
There are so many great ways that mobile platforms can help at conferences. People can use them to instantly input contact information of people they have met, take notes, photos, and so much more. They can use them to take video of interesting displays. They can use them to get in touch with their home office or coworkers who are at the event. Many people blog during the event to keep their followers up to speed on what they are learning. The possibilities are endless.
It is possible to set up a touchscreen interactive display that allows interested attendees to quickly find all the information they want. This allows the person manning the booth to really engage with the conference attendees.
7. LED Lighting
LED lighting allows booths at conferences to be lit up in spectacular ways that were never before possible. They can be used to spell out messages. They can also change colors and can move around in interesting patterns.
8. Interactive Exhibits
The typical exhibit of just a few decades ago was a poster board with some information, a few banners and an employee to man the booth. Now, booths are outfitted with computers that people can use to look up information about the product. They are outfitted with HDTVs that constantly broadcast new information about the product. They have been transformed from a boring experience in which attendees were just viewers into interactive experiences that capture the imagination and interest of attendees. This is a great change that makes conferences much more effective.
With the rise of social media and the emergence of tech entrepreneurs giving money to charity, many of the lines between non-profits and regular businesses are starting to be blurred. Here’s a summary of the issue.
Whether there is a profit motive or not, the notion that business has a role to play in addressing societal issues is at the heart of today’s discourse on social entrepreneurship. Defining what social entrepreneurship is as well as the difference between it and traditional non-profit management as well as philanthropy is a flourishing discourse. Coined by Bill Drayton of Ashoka in the early 1980’s, the term social entrepreneurship has become somewhat of a catch-all phrase. Originally it referred to someone with the passion of an entrepreneur tackling a social challenge. Now, it has evolved to a number of meanings including but not limited to social interventions with distinctly business characteristics as well as businesses themselves.
With his remark, Dr. Yunus hit upon one of the main themes of the book: the blurring line between profit and non-profit, business and charity when providing a social good. The term non-profit organization has been used to describe what an organization is not rather than what it is. The equalization of social service work with non-profit balance sheets became sacrosanct. In order to do good, common practice and wisdom told us, we could not also do well. Now, that notion is being turned on its head. Not only do social investors believe that it is possible to do good and do well, other aspects of the old mindset are falling away. Many non-profit organizations are developing profitable income streams to both help their constituencies as well as the sustainability of their organizations by ensuring a stable bottom line. Throughout this book, stories of individuals and organizations are blurring the distinction between profit and non-profit are presented.
Read the entire article. It might spark some great ideas!
Today, young professionals can advance their careers better than ever before thanks to the Web. Professionals with HughesNet Internet plans, cable Internet, or any other type of Web connection have access to an online landscape that’s ripe with opportunities for improvement and advancement. The digital age has ushered in a new era where business opportunities aren’t just conducted on the phone or at the office.
If you’re aspiring to get better in your career or in your role as an entrepreneur, take advantage of these 3 major affordances of today’s Internet:
Getting better at your job or learning more about your industry doesn’t have to end with workplace training sessions, tutorials or guides and manuals. With the Internet, you can become an expert in your field without having to leave your couch, and without having to spend a dime. Numerous online resources offer courses in business strategy, technology, design, coding, finance and countless other subject areas related to what your professional specialty.
Check out sites like Udemy.com, Coursera.org, w3schools.com and Udacity.com for free resources that can help you become better in your role. Not only will you be able to apply your knowledge to your job and improve your work, but your team leader will probably notice, too.
In today’s professional landscape, it’s important that you differentiate yourself from the thousands of other people who do what you do. It could mean the difference in you getting that next big promotion or position at a prominent firm. Social media and blogging offer opportunities to engage in personal branding and to establish your presence online and become recognized as a leading authority and expert in your field. It takes time and considerable effort, but you’ll find that your own brand equity makes you a more valuable part of the workforce.
Last but not least, the Web 2.0 landscape offers more networking opportunities than were available 15 years ago. Not only do personal branding, social media and blogging play a prominent role in how professionals reach and interact with one another, but large-scale professional networking sites like LinkedIn offer legitimate opportunities to connect with others in your field. If you’re not using the Internet for networking purposes, start today so you can take advantage of all possible opportunities.
How will you go about online professional development, personal branding and network in the future?
As social media impacts our personal lives, it also affects us at work as well. It also offers opportunities for the workplace, particularly in larger organizations.
We see everyday what’s possible with social networks for improving customer engagement and experiences? Can the same be done with internal social networks for improving employee engagement and experiences?
In the many years of helping businesses align business objectives with social and new media strategies, there is one thing that always introduces difficulty into the equation, employee engagement. At some point in the development of any strategy, employee and stakeholder input is critical to ensure relevance and ultimately success. While social media may more often than not live in the marketing department, it affects the entire organization and as such, requires a centralized approach to leadership and management combined with a distributed platform for communication and learning.
Enterprise social networks (ESNs) are on the rise as they can deliver an immediate solution for aligning stakeholders around activity streams with the familiarity of Twitter or Facebook. These internal social networks are not only validating and useful to power users, but also friendly and easy to participate in for those who are new to the platform. While the promise of ESNs is significant to the future of how employees interact, learn, and ultimately work, challenges exist around adoption and overall measurement. And, like social media in general, businesses often underestimate or altogether miss the true potential of social networks and the role they play in bringing people together to do something incredible…over and over.
Read the whole article as it lays out the many benefits for connecting your team through an internal social network.
Social media is a twenty-first century revolution that has swept the globe. It has given billions of people new opportunities to share their voices, connect, and facilitate the type of discussion that helps propagate more revolutions. It has infiltrated television, movies, advertising, mobile phones, online education, and a whole slew of other niches that are heavily embedded in many peoples’ daily lifestyles. To say that social media is here to stay would be an absurd understatement. In a way, the world is moving towards virtual connectivity on a level that parallels the time when the Internet first became available for personal use.
One of the most interesting things about this connectivity is how it has redefined what it means to network professionally. In the old days, networking to leverage relationships for careers was a matter of putting on a suit and tie and heading out to dinner parties—but no longer is this the case. Instead, you can join virtual networks dedicated to this type of activity like LinkedIn, Plaxo, or Jobster. Sure: you might have to bring out the suit and tie once in a while, but you’re far more likely to score a job through the Internet than you are by hosting dinner parties today (unless you can afford it).
Twitter especially is a unique platform for finding jobs for companies whose visions you are passionate about. These days, especially with the advent of online education, more and more people are obtaining highly accredited degrees—the competition is fierce, and it has become extremely important to differentiate yourself and to establish an online presence that is credible, intriguing, and that piques the interest of employers you want to work for.
And now, the million-dollar question: How do you do it?
Establish an online presence
Employers love to find people who fit their company’s cultural and behavioral values. Do you know what those values are? Do you want to work for a tech firm that values a geeky understanding of computers and the Internet? Establish yourself as an authority and a pundit in the niche you’re interested in sweeping and you will likely attract the attention of unique employers. Do you tweet about industry-relevant topics? Do you demonstrate a singular knowledge for your realm of expertise? Do your insights give other people a better understanding of the way you think—the way you approach a problem, the way you interact with others? By establishing an online presence via Twitter (where companies are always watching and tweeting themselves), you can essentially sell yourself in an environment where hungry recruiters are constantly scouting.
Connect with recruiters on Twitter
Any smart company looking to hire fresh talent knows that the Internet is one of the first places to go. Recruiters are often required to use social media as a means for sifting through potential applicants, and you might find that your dream company’s best headhunter is more sociable than you think. Follow these people—watch what they’re tweeting about, and try to connect with them about openings at their company. So what if you find that they’re not hiring right now? The more you can expose yourself to the right people, the better your opportunities are of receiving an email one day that says “Hey, send me your resume!”
Expand your network with the right people
Make friends. Connect with relevant people on Twitter who work in your industry. See what they’re talking about, and get involved in creative discussion that establishes your unique voice in your specific niche. The more your network expands—just like in the real world!—the more you raise the chance for making a random connection that could lead to your next big break. And remember: none of this requires toasts of campaign over an expensive caviar dinner—this can be done from home. Or a café. Or a smartphone.
At the end of the day, your ability to solidify the authority of your online presence will translate into career wins that you never even thought were possible. It’s very common today for hiring teams to type your name into Google when considering your application—so why not give them something unbelievably stellar to judge you by?
Most people are aware now that the stuff you post on Facebook and other social media outlets will likely be researched by prospective employers. This interview with Dr. Lawrence Burgee, Department Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Information Systems, Brown School of Business and Leadership, Stevenson University, illustrates the point. He tells a story of one interview where an applicant was asked if a person could be their friend for an hour to look over their Facebook page while others were interviewing him.
The recession has been difficult for many people, but it has been particularly difficult for anyone who has lost their job.
Some are taking matters into their own hands and using a job loss as an opportunity to find a new career doing something they love. I understand this isn’t a real option for everyone. Paying the bills and supporting a family in the short term always come first.
That said, many people who lose their jobs are in a position to re-evaluate their jobs and careers and change course. If you can create a situation where you love your work, you can lead a much happier and productive life.
BusinessWeek addressed this issue in a recent article and also explained how certain developments can accelerate this trend. The article posed the issue as choosing between your passion vs a steady paycheck.
After more than a decade in the advertising business, Erik Proulx found himself on the wrong end of a pink slip. What most people might have deemed a setback, though, he saw as an opportunity. Instead of looking for another job making TV commercials, Proulx dove into a longtime dream: filmmaking. Last December he released a documentary called Lemonade, which chronicles the lives of ad industry veterans who reinvented themselves after being laid off: a coffee roaster, a nutrition coach, an artist, and others who, like Proulx, decided to pursue their passions rather than return to careers that were no longer inspiring.
With the unemployment rate apparently stuck at or near double digits, more people seem to be choosing a passion over a steady paycheck. Rather than waiting for companies to open up their payrolls, these people are taking matters into their own hands and defining their own jobs, going online to find each other, leverage each other’s capabilities and services, and learn faster by working together. That is a big risk, but these people realize that they’ll be far happier if they can find something they love doing and figure out creative ways to make a living from it. Focusing on work that offers greater meaning makes it easier to withstand the perils and roadblocks they will face as they leave the corporate fold.
The author then explores whether this new trend is sustainable and whether it can spur economic growth. He cites two significant factors that will push this along – cloud computing and social media. The answers are fairly obvious, but the article is worth reading. Also important is something called the cheap revolution championed by writers like Rich Karlgaard.
The recent article in the Washington Post is quite fascinating, particularly for someone like myself who started a virtual business ten years ago with home computers and an organizational meeting at Panera’s.
Frank Gruber’s workstation at AOL in Dulles could be in any cubicle farm from here to Bangalore — push-pin board for reminders, computer on Formica desk, stifling fluorescent lighting. It’s so drab there’s nothing more to say about it, which is why the odds of finding Gruber there are slim.
Instead, Gruber often works at Tryst in Adams Morgan, at Liberty Tavern in Clarendon, at a Starbucks, in hotel lobbies, at the Library of Congress, on the Bolt Bus to New York or, as he did last week, beside the rooftop pool of the Hilton on Embassy Row. Gruber and Web entrepreneur Jen Consalvo turned up late one morning, opened their Mac laptops, connected to WiFi and began working. A few feet away, the pool’s water shimmered like hand-blown glass.
“I like the breeze,” Consalvo said, working all the while.
Gruber and Consalvo are digital nomads. They work — clad in shorts, T-shirts and sandals — wherever they find a wireless Web connection to reach their colleagues via instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and occasionally by voice on their iPhones or Skype. As digital nomads, experts say, they represent a natural evolution in teleworking. The Internet let millions of wired people work from home; now, with widespread WiFi, many have cut the wires and left home (or the dreary office) to work where they please — and especially around other people, even total strangers.
For nomads, the benefits are both primitive and practical.
Primitive: Tom Folkes, an artificial intelligence programmer, worked last week at the Java Shack in Arlington County because he’s “an extrovert working on introvert tasks. If I’m working at home by myself, I am really hating life. I need people.” He has a coffee shop rotation. “I spread my business around.”
Practical: Marilyn Moysey, an Ezenia employee who sells virtual collaboration software, often works at Panera Bread near her home in Alexandria even though she has an office in the “boondocks.” Why? “Because there is no hope for the road system around here,” she said. Asked where her co-workers were, Moysey said, “I don’t know, because it doesn’t matter anymore.”
Nomad life is already evolving. Nomads who want the feel of working with officemates have begun co-working in public places or at the homes of strangers. They work laptop-by-laptop in living rooms and coffee shops, exchanging both idle chitchat and business advice with people who all work for different companies. The gatherings are called jellies, after a bowl of jelly beans the creators were eating when they came up with the name.
All of this makes sense, including the last part regarding co-working with others. The freedom of working from home, or from any spot you select for that matter, is very rewarding. It’s liberating to break free from the arbitrary work schedule imposed on you by your employer. On the other hand, you learn quickly that some level of self-discipline is critical.
Depending on your personality, however, one can begin to miss the daily interactions with other people. particularly friends at the office. So it’s not too surprising to hear how some decide to congregate and work side-by-side.
This brings up another topic critical for many who decide to work from home when starting a new business. Networking is critical to success, but it can also be important simply from a lifestyle and job satisfaction point of view. Many of us need to get out there, and sometimes it’s too easy to spend day after day at home. It’s not a recipe for success.
Finally, if any of this intrigues you, please check out the 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. I’ll have much more to say about this in later posts, but Tim is a pioneer in lifestyle management. Check it out if you want to break away from your daily routine of going into an office.