So, you’ve received your invitation to that international conference, seminar, workshop, Fellowship, etc. Congratulations!
You’ve packed your stuff, created space on your phone for loads of pictures, and have all the essentials needed for your trip.
You’re set to go? Probably not.
I was invited to an international conference which was fully funded. I checked the price of entry tickets alone for the 2-day summit, it cost about €3,500. I knew it wasn’t a meeting to eat small chops, but for partnership building and strategic collaboration.
Opportunities to attend global meetings are often underutilized by many young people because there’s no clear strategy or intention behind it. After the excitement of being selected wears off, the key question is “what are my key take aways from this opportunity?”
These meetings need to convert into something practical, credible and lasting.
You’re either improving your personal and organizational brand, building strong networks and relationships, forging strategic partnerships which could convert to funding or accessing grants and bigger opportunities, or taking advantage of the global platform to share your narrative and tell your story.
Here’s a checklist that can help out when preparing for international programs:
- Have your business cards printed, irrespective of whether you have an organization or not. Your name, email, contact number, LinkedIn profile, and website will suffice.
- Connect with speakers or key people attending the program ahead on LinkedIn. A short introduction will do, then follow up in person when you meet.
- Prepare your elevator pitch ahead of time – this is super important.
- Create your “ask” and “give” list. 3-5 key things you need and require as well as 3-5 key things you’re ready to give.
- Follow up immediately on the business cards you receive. Send a quick email same day you get it, and a follow-up one when you return to your base.
- Not all connections will convert into something immediately. Stay in touch and remain top of mind.
- In place of going sight-seeing, reach out to organizations in that city who are working in the space as you. Ask for an opportunity to visit their office for 10-15mins to learn more about what they do. Reach out to a couple, and some will be more than happy to receive you.
- Be active on social media during the conference. You’ll get lots of mentions and retweets, which will boost your online footprint and presence.
- Send a short article to several local media in the country you’re at about the outcomes from a key session you attended. They’ll appreciate the diversity of thought and international perspective you’re bringing.
- Connect with a thought leader or fellow participant, and do a Facebook Live on some of the issues raised and discussed. It positions you as a resource in that field.
- Upon returning home, write a short blog and article and send to media organizations. Ensure to send this link back to the organizers of the program.
- Send a thank you note and letter to the organization for the platform and opportunity, and stay in touch.
- Please take good pictures. I once met the Deputy Secretary General of the UN at the UN Headquarters in New York and she obliged me to take pictures with her. She actually sat beside me and I gave someone the phone to quickly take pictures. He clicked away while we both smiled. She then left and I took my phone to go through the pictures – alas, the dude couldn’t operate an iPhone and no pictures were taken. I still “pray” for him whenever I remember. ?
Yes, enjoy the new city and environment, but if the experience doesn’t convert to anything credible and concrete, it was only just a holiday. Be intentional.
Written by: Oyindamola Johnson
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