On Friday last, April 15th I attended The Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers (AIPCO) annual conference in the Lyrath Estate Hotel in Kilkenny on behalf of Go West. The Lyrath as a venue is a lovely mix of old and new.  The hotel staff are welcoming and accommodating and the food is fab. The programme planned by AIPCO was excellent. The speakers were both enlightening and inspiring.

All of the speakers gave us delegates plenty of food for thought from both a professional and a personal perspective. Since attending the conference last Friday, I have been mulling over what they had to say.  I have shared their advice and tips with colleagues and clients alike. All are very practical and applicable to any industry, business or organisation. These are a few of my take homes from the conference:

Dr. Maureen Gaffney, Clinical Psychologist, Author and Columnist spoke about balancing the positive against the power of the negative to dominate, to overwhelm, to “stick” and to become contagious. She suggests that the only way to balance the power of the negative is by force of numbers. You need three positives for every negative – just to manage your life, your work and your organisation in an ordinary way. You need five positives if you want to flourish.

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We all want to flourish. Two of the tips that Maureen gave to help us flourish struck a cord with me. Firstly, Learning to be grateful for the resources you have is a very powerful antidote to negative mood. If you record once a week three reasons to be grateful in your life, at the end of 10 weeks you will feel better about your life as a whole, have fewer physical symptoms and be more optimistic about the future – this is despite the fact that you may still experience the usual quota of stress and set-backs during that time. A second way to increase your positive mood is to record once a week three good things that happened to you during that week. According to Maureen these simple exercises have been found to be remarkably effective.

Jonathan Bradshaw, CEO of the Meetology Group spoke about the concept of reciprocation. He suggests that you consider doing a favour for a client or potential client. There can be long term positive benefits to doing a favour for someone as we have an inbuilt need to return favours, pay back debts and treat others as we are treated by them. Be nice. We are far more likely to be influenced by people we like, and even more if we feel we’re similar to the person influencing us. Likability comes in many forms: pleasantness, smiles, interest, compliments, eye-contact, social skills and physical attraction.

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Gerrit Heijkoop, Executive Partner, How Can I Be Social described the social media setting as a “virtual bar”.  This “virtual bar” is for connecting people and keeping them up to date. You should find out what your network wants to talk ‘about’.  Stop talking to them and give them something to talk about! Gerrit has 5 Ls  which provide a very useful rule of thumb to help you write valuable and relevant social media updates:

Learn – Share your knowledge, tips and expertise that can help your clients in their profession.  In the case of a meeting/conference we share some tips from one of our speakers.

Love – Thank people, congratulate people, interact socially – share the love.  For example, encourage delegates or meeting attendees to share photos of themselves interacting at the meeting or attending the conference banquet.

Laugh – Funny content is very relevant. People love to laugh. Share interesting/funny photos from the conference

Location – Where are you. What are you doing.  Are you on route to the conference venue?  We use a conference/meeting hashtag to share images, tips and advice during the conference and during our preparations and planning for the conference.

Listen – Listen to what your network is saying. Share their posts. Retweet and Like their posts.  Encourage your delegates to use and follow the conference hashtag.

At the AIPCO conference there was plenty of opportunities for networking and interaction with colleagues, speakers and peers. This interaction was ably facilitated and encouraged through the crowdcomms conference app which delegates used to ask questions, vote on polls and participate in a competition! All in all the AIPCO annual conference was a great experience and has definitely made it on my list of positives for this week!

Now back to planning all our Go West conferences!