Hyedi Nelson stands in front of a branded sign at the American Urological Association Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Spring 2024.

Attending Conferences with Thought Leadership in Mind

Ear­li­er this month, I attend­ed the Amer­i­can Uro­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion Annu­al Meet­ing in San Anto­nio and returned home with a list of com­pelling top­ics our clients can use as thought lead­er­ship angles for bylined arti­cles, social media posts, speak­ing sub­mis­sions and more. Here are some tips for how you can keep thought lead­er­ship top of mind when attend­ing events and con­fer­ences:

Mine the con­fer­ence pro­gram for over­all trend­ing themes and inter­est­ing top­ics relat­ed to your organization’s area of expertise.
My client had sev­er­al experts pre­sent­ing data on their spe­cif­ic device, but I made sure to also attend ses­sions on the gen­er­al dis­ease state they treat and ses­sions with con­tent about their com­peti­tors. By doing this, I was able to pull out recur­ring themes from the pre­sen­ta­tions them­selves, as well as from the ques­tions the mod­er­a­tors and audi­ence asked. Flip­ping through the con­fer­ence agen­da also helped me list out some ideas of what top­ics are top of mind for my client’s tar­get audiences.

Pay atten­tion to con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen­ing “in the wild.”
I’m not sug­gest­ing you eaves­drop, per se, but espe­cial­ly dur­ing major con­fer­ences and events, atten­dees in some ways “take over” a sec­tion of the city for the dura­tion. So, whether you’re out to eat, shop­ping for sou­venirs, at the air­port or the hotel bar, chances are oth­er con­fer­ence-goers will be there, too, talk­ing freely about top­ics that might be of inter­est. You nev­er know what you might over­hear that could spark ideas for good thought lead­er­ship topics.

Ask your­self, “What unique per­spec­tive do I bring?”
If the prod­uct or ser­vice you pro­vide is in a crowd­ed space, it is even more impor­tant to be able to clear­ly answer this ques­tion. A good thought lead­er­ship top­ic becomes a great one if your experts can pro­vide valu­able, unique insights that per­haps your com­pe­ti­tion isn’t able to.

Lis­ten for impor­tant nuggets that make sense to share with the broad­er team.
A few of our Tech & Man­u­fac­tur­ing prac­tice group team mem­bers also recent­ly attend­ed a local tech­nol­o­gy con­fer­ence and were mak­ing con­nec­tions with peo­ple they met who they want­ed to intro­duce to client con­tacts and oth­er folks in their net­work. They were also soak­ing up all things arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) and where the indus­try is head­ed. To make sure the rest of their prac­tice group, and at some lev­el, our entire agency is kept abreast of all the lat­est trends in the tech indus­try, they are shar­ing back the high­lights of the con­fer­ence as quick­ly as they can.

Don’t let it mar­i­nate too long. 
Put a date on your cal­en­dar and block off the time to put pen to paper (or fin­gers to key­board) and get the thoughts out of your head. The soon­er you start shar­ing once you’re back from the event, the more you’ll remem­ber and the more excit­ed you’ll be about the topics!

Events and con­fer­ences present a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to ful­ly immerse your­self in a spe­cif­ic top­ic area, see your busi­ness or your clients’ busi­ness­es from mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives and see indus­try trends play­ing out in real time. These sit­u­a­tions have the poten­tial to be over­whelm­ing; but with a lit­tle prep work, you can strate­gi­cal­ly use them to gath­er valu­able thought lead­er­ship top­ics and con­tent that will con­tin­ue to pay off months down the road.


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