By Angela Maiers

What’s Your #ISTE2016 “TO BE” List?

As I prepare to attend and present at #ISTE2016, many of my friends are publishing their ISTE “To Do” lists – sessions they’ll attend, parties they’ll check out, virtual friends that they must meet in person, and sightseeing they’ll squeeze in. May I, as a veteran ISTE attendee, suggest that we re-focus on what and who it is you want “TO BE” at ISTE? I submit the following list for your consideration:

Be Prepared

It is not just the teacher in me that encourages this; your practice and preparation before ISTE will guarantee an “A-Plus” time when you arrive.

Consider the following assignments.

  • Set up your profile and connect with others before you arrive.
  • Practice telling your story. (It may sound silly, but practicing out loud can really help.)
  • Research  speakers and attendees; you’ll be ready for those impromptu run-ins or elevator rides that can lead to substantial connections later on.
  • RSVP to conference-related events.
  • Post on social media using #ISTE2016, the official hashtag..

Be “Rememberable”

You will meet hundreds or thousands of new people at ISTE. Each time you introduce yourself, you are not just handing them your business card; you are telling them your story. Sure, you will tell them where you work and what you do, but know they will remember who you are by the story you tell.

Your introduction is what can make or break a great first impression, so your story needs to be brief, bold, and “rememberable.” Leave them wanting to know more. The key is to stand out for the right reasons; your strengths, your unique talents, and perspectives.

Be Tactically Serendipitous

Over the course of my career, I have witnessed the magical powers of serendipity. Some of the most profound moments in this phase of my life have come when I discovered something great while seeking something else. These “random collisions with unusual suspects”  have led to great conversations, shared meals, meetups, conferences, events, and significant partnerships.

I would have never have experienced the richness of these individuals and partnerships, or even been invited into your lives, without serendipity. At ISTE, follow the steps in my article, “Tactical Serendipity,” to learn how to leave yourself open and available to random collisions.

Be Reflective

You introduce yourself to everyone, people know your story, and you’ve forged an authentic connection –  but what happens if you can’t remember their names or contact information, or if you get a card, can’t connect the name to a face or conversation?

You think you’ll remember them, but you’re going to be overwhelmed with new connections and new learning. Mix in late nights and jet lag, and you’ll lucky to remember your own name. If you think you’ll sort it all out when you get home, you’re wrong. So skip a session, go late to a party, or work though lunch and take notes about the conversations you’ve had and what you’ve learned!

I take notes on the back of business cards, in my notebook, and with key apps on my mobile device. I make sure I have extra batteries for my phone, so I can capture and share the event

Here’s What You Might Consider Capturing

  • The Who
    • Who did you meet?
    • What intrigued you about their story?
  • The Where
    • Where and when did you meet? This is important to jog their memory for the next contact. “I met you at the conference,” is not very personal, giving them the impression that their story just wasn’t that remarkable to you.
  • The What
    • What did you discuss?
    • How did the topic come up?
    • What excited you about the conversation?
    • Did you discuss specific plans and ideas?
  • The Next Step
    • Did you initiate next steps? If so, you must make good on that promise. “I’ll be in touch soon,” is not a promise. “I will send you an email following up on our conversations Monday,” is!

The difference between you and the hundreds of other people who met your future client, business partners, friend, or colleague is what you remember and how you follow up.

Be a Sharer. 

Can you remember the top five take-away ideas you had from the last conference you attended? How much sharing did you do?

Sharing is not only fun and valuable to your network; it has huge effects on how we will retain and remember the experience. Repetition is key to memory retention. The more you can repeat your new learning and share your take-aways, the more likely you’ll retain and apply the things that are most important to you.

Be a Learner.

Being a lifelong learner is what empowers your relevance for the rest of your life. Eric Hoffer captured it best when he said, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Don’t be beautifully equipped for irrelevance — keep learning.

Be a Question Asker.

I have been teaching and writing about the importance of asking great questions for a long time. Great questions are the best way to have a meaningful conversation, the best way to rope in a mentor and the best way to look like a star performer. Make it a priority to listen to people asking great questions.

Be Courageous.

We don’t serve the rest of the world or ourselves by playing small. Humanity’s misfortune is when we don’t realize the very gifts we have. Own and honor your genius, and make a contribution that matters. If you see someone that you would love to introduce yourself to, then do it – without hesitation! Most people at ISTE warmly welcome this, and indeed many of them are just as nervous as you are!

Be Kind.

We lead our lives in the company of others, and that is where we leave our legacy. It’s the quality of our relationships that most determines whether our legacy will be momentary or long-lasting. Don’t ever pass up a chance to let others know they are noticed and that they matter to you.

Be Patient and Persistent.

Things worth doing seldom come easy. There will be good days and bad days. The bad times tell you that you are pushing yourself, that you are not afraid to learn by trial and error. So if one of the days of ISTE2016 don’t go quite as you hoped, learn from it, strap your shoes on and charge into the next day determined to be each of the ten qualities on this list!

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