Right everyone raise your hand if you attended the Office* Show last month?! I did, I did! As you can imagine, I am pretty much surrounded by events 24/7, so it made a lovely change last month when I attended the show only as a delegate! It helped that the show was incredibly well organised and delegates very well looked after, which is not an easy task at all!

There were many free training sessions for assistants to attend and the exhibitors were all relevant suppliers to the industry which again is not always the case with these types of events!

As you’ll know I do work in events and I also attend a lot of events, so I do get to see a real mix of different types of conferences, seminars and exhibitions and I also witness many different kinds of delegates ranging from brilliant to totally unengaged (the thought “seriously why are you here?” often crosses my mind!).

In many conversations that I have with assistants, one of the topics that always comes up is the lack of training opportunities that we receive. Many companies do not pay for their assistants to receive training and they don’t encourage assistants to keep their skills up to date. So when we do get the opportunity to attend something like the Office* Show I do think it is incredibly vital that we make the most out of our time and engage with the event. I decided to set myself a little challenge over the time that I was at the show. I wanted to get the most out of the event by being the best delegate ever! This is what I did:

I used social media to promote the event and my attendance at it

I tweeted about the show, the speakers and the content. I took a few pictures, posted them on Facebook and also on Twitter. I made sure I shared all of the training content and speaker’s wisdom with my network, and I retweeted other attendee’s updates, which I was aware of because I followed the show’s hashtag.

I asked questions during the training sessions

One piece of advice I received from a former boss was that you should always ask a question at the end of a training session. It will make people remember you, and it ensures you listen to the session while trying to formulate a question. If that makes you feel slightly worried, do go up to the speaker at the end of the session to thank them face-to-face.

I attended two seminars (Pitman’s Excel training and The iPad PA) both of which were excellent, and I did come away with lots of tips and useful advice. I stood at the back of the theatre for Laura Schwartz’s interview which was truly inspiring and free! I also dipped into a few other free talks and sat in on Hamish Jenkinson’s interview (he was PA to Madonna).

The Office* Show and how to be a great delegate

I had some objectives before I attended the event

They were to meet with the assistants that read my blog and put some faces to names. I also wanted to make sure I visit a good mixture of talks and training sessions, and I also wanted to speak at the very least half of the exhibitors and exchange business cards.

This meant that I had studied the programme beforehand and I had looked at who was exhibiting and what products would benefit my company and the readers of my blog. Do take the time before the show to familiarise yourself with the content. You’d be surprised at the number of delegates that turn up at events without the faintest clue what the event content is.

I also arranged a tweet-up with readers of the blog and my followers on Twitter. Thanks to the lovely folks at the Wine Select stand we all met over a little tipple and had an hour together to say hello, put faces to names and catch up. It was brilliant to have a small networking objective for the show because like everyone else I don’t find networking all that easy!

The Office* Show and how to be a great delegate

I attended the after show party

I attended the after show party at the Skyloft, and I did some face to face networking with other assistants and those working in the industry, I gave out more business cards, and I had two lovely glasses of wine (maybe three).

I will share my new found knowledge with my network

If you have any notes from the event or you were given copies of the presentation slides do share them with your colleagues and other assistants that didn’t get to the show. Look out for these on my blog over the next few weeks!

Over the two days I realised it isn’t a chore to be a great delegate. I felt fully engaged with the event, and I think because of that I got so much more out of the two days. It is essential that we take the initiative with our training and do try to squeeze as much out of the experience as possible.

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