Maximize your ABI conference experience

June 9, 2016 | 2016 CEO Survey: Workforce, Health Care are Top Priorities Kathy Anderson | Vice President, Member Development and Programs, Iowa Association of Business and Industry,

Kathy Anderson | ABI Vice President, Member Development and Programs |

The 2016 Taking Care of Business Conference brings 450 to 550 Iowa business leaders from across the state together for three days. With so many attendees in a variety of industries, ages and positions within their company, the Taking Care of Business Conference will offer connections and opportunities you could never expect. Taking a few minutes on the front end to prepare will help you make the most of your three days in Sioux City.

Reach out. Check out the conference attendee list. Make a list of 5 to 10 people you’d like to meet this year. If you couldn’t identify them in a crowd, ask another ABI member, ABI staff member or a Conference Committee member for an introduction. It’s a nice touch to reach out ahead of time to those attendees you’ve known for years. Tell them you’re looking forward to seeing them at conference. Some of them have changed positions or companies or are now charged with spearheading new efforts for their organization. Ask them how they’re doing and then follow up at the conference. Be open and generous as you make new contacts and reconnect with your “ABI family.” Finally, be very aware that each attendee is there for specific reasons. Don’t take it personally if you happen to catch someone at a moment when they aren’t able to talk. Follow up later and be respectful of their time.

Plan out. Review the conference agenda, which is available online. Attend all the regular programming, but when the unexpected conversations happen — and they will — ditch the plan and take advantage of the opportunities to develop new relationships. Have a plan, but then be ready to roll with it.

Check out ... the conference app. Download the conference app — available for Apple, Android, Blackberry and Windows phones. Include your social media handles in your profile to make the most of the networking available through the app. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook options are all avenues to connect at the conference and down the road. The app will also provide up-to-the-minute details on the conference and updates on weather situations, programming and venues. It also provides special offers and discounts at local Siouxland venues for after- hours exploring. Visit for download instructions.

Branch out. Take the extra effort to meet those outside of your inner circle. Reach out to the Leadership Iowa class, young professionals and new conference attendees. The young professionals and new attendees you see at the conference are future leaders in our state. One of the best things new companies and executives say about Iowa is that it is accessible. Be accessible to the younger professionals, ask them about their career goals or family, and be helpful however you can. Remember those who helped you along the way in your career success. Be one of those for the next generation of Iowa leaders.

Step out. Have fun in Siouxland. Grab an old friend and connect while checking out Siouxland. There’s plenty of biking, parks, ethnic food, fun bars, historic venues and museums to try. Make a little part of this conference yours by stepping out of your comfort zone.

Then after the conference, three things will be important:

  • Follow up with new connections and old friends. Help each of them as you can. Keep your network incredibly valuable for years to come.
  • Complete your conference evaluation! ABI keeps the Taking Care of Business Conference educational and meaningful to attendees through constant feedback.
  • Mark your calendar for next year’s conference, June 6-8, 2017, in Dubuque. We can’t wait to reconnect with you there!