Three Tiny Actions that Will Invigorate Your Conference Experience


By Kristy Grant-Hart

It’s the most exciting time of the compliance year – Conference Season!  Whoo Hoo!  In the Northern hemisphere, summer has ended, and we’re all back to work.  Next week in National City, Maryland, the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics has their conference.  After that, local conferences abound like the Health Care Compliance Association’s Nashville conference. Conference season is in full swing.

Conferences can be exciting but also overwhelming.  The little things you do can make all the difference between successfully enjoying an event and coming back to work with nothing to show for your time.  Here are three tiny actions you can take that will make your experience significantly more rewarding.

Manage Expectations – Look to Pick Up One Great Tip

One of the keys to a successful conference experience is managing your expectations.  When asking friends what they thought of a particular conference, far too many say, “It was OK, but I was expecting more.”  When expectations are too high, you’re bound to be disappointed.

Early on in my career, one of my mentors taught me that the key to a great conference experience is to look for one or two great tips and takeaways that could be used to enhance your compliance program.  Rather than expecting earth-shattering new insights, keep on the lookout for one or two new ideas that resonate with you.  Be sure to write them down and highlight them so you can find them later.

Take a Break When You Need It

Back-to-back sessions with great information can be exhilarating – or exhausting – or sometimes both.  Listen to your body and take a break when you need it.  Get a coffee, answer some emails, call your spouse or friend who works outside the industry, or just go up to your room if you’re at an out-of-town event.

Even true extraverts (like me) need to take a break from going to back-to-back sessions and networking events.  If you don’t take a break, you may show up exhausted to the most important part – the networking/coffee break/happy hours.  Exhaustion shows up in your eyes and demeanor.  It may make you distracted, and if you appear uninterested in someone, you won’t make a positive impression or connection.  Take the time to take care of yourself throughout the day so you can make the most of the event overall.

Find One New Friend or Connection, and Commit to Nurturing It

You don’t need to collect 500 business cards.  Instead of trying to meet everyone under the sun, set a goal to meet one new friend or connection.  When you’ve met someone you like, exchange contact information.  Go up to your room and connect on LinkedIn.  Add a calendar reminder to send a follow-up note a week from the date of the conference.  Now celebrate.  You’ve met your goal!

Making a mini-goal can be a great strategy.  You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, and you can check it off your list.  Heck, you may even be up for meeting a second person after meeting your goal!

Conference season is a time for new information, exploration of best practices, and exchange of information.  By setting your expectations correctly, taking time to keep yourself in top form, and making mini-goals you know you can meet, you’ll make the most of this invigorating time of year.

Coming to the SCCE next week?

If you’re coming to the SCCE national conference next week, come say hello!  I’m performing two sessions at the conference (one on choosing metrics that matter and one on leadership), and will frequently be at the Spark Compliance Consulting booth in the Exhibitor Hall.  See you there!

Kristy Grant-Hart the author of the book “How to be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer.”  She is CEO of Spark Compliance Consulting. She can be found at, @KristyGrantHart and emailed at


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