Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The future of conferences on Sustainability and CSR?

I have worked in the Sustainability / CSR for quite a while now and have attended a lot of events and conferences during that time.

The recent years have shown some interesting developments here. Webinars and virtual conferences are now normal and generally accepted in this field and form a big part of how you meet likeminded people.

But like with everything in our lives we need to choose where to participate and what we find most useful in the events and conferences we attend. And despite the new trends actual face-to-face conferences still are the most popular conferences.

For us as individuals, it is crucial to meet people and organizations that add value and are challenging our thinking. This is what an interesting event or conference is about.

So what are the things am I looking for in an interesting event or conference before signing up to an offline or face-to-face event?

• How much does the participation cost? Does it represent a fair value to what I want to get out of the conference?

• Transportation: How easy is it to get to the venue?

• The right mix of participants: The number of participants needs to be large enough to have a wide variety of individuals in the room. At the same time it should not be overwhelming but also not too intimate. The right mix is crucial.

• Are there separate workshops or so called breakout sessions that can bring some added value to the speaking slots? These sessions are really useful and add a lot of value to the event/conference.

• What about the audience? Is the target audience more practitioners from the corporate world or more consultants looking for the next customer? A mix of both is always useful.

• What about the speaker list? Are there people I know speaking or running workshops? This might make it easier to get introduced to more new people.

• What about my competitors or other services providers in the sector? Are they going to attend? If so then this is an indication that I might to sign up as well.

• Is there a way to participate virtually if it is a conference that is happening offline at a conference centre, etc? This would be very useful if you cannot attend. At least you would not miss the interesting speeches.

These are some of the questions I ask myself before I am deciding to sign up for a conference or an event. You might have different questions before signing up for a conference. But in the end it all depends on what you want to achieve by attending I believe.

Once you decided to sign up then the rest is really up to you and how much you want to network during the event. You can decide to get as many business cards as possible or aim to engage in longer discussions with individuals if you like. The choice is yours. And this is the beauty of events and conferences. The possibility to meet likeminded people you can share thoughts, ideas and experiences with.

Post written by Fabian Pattberg. Fabian is a CSR/Sustainability and social media expert blogging at and

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