Utility professionals rely on a variety of content types to keep up with the latest technologies and solutions to help them achieve their business goals and provide their customers with reliable energy and water. However, nothing beats face-to-face communication and networking for sharing experiences and common concerns, building relationships, and developing a deep understanding of problems and solutions in electric, gas, and water industries.
In a 2015 Harvard Business Review article, Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School, extolled the virtues of conferences. “Skipping conferences is problematic because you’re missing out on the benefits of networking,” she says. “Today, probably even more than ever before, networks are a key form of social capital for achieving goals in both your professional and personal lives,” she said.
Industry events offer professionals a unique opportunity to meet with people who face the same challenges and concerns as they do. But choosing the right conference may be difficult.
Here are five questions to ask when choosing a conference.
1: Does the conference align with business goals and requirements?
According to Inc. magazine, people should choose conferences that align with business goals. Large trade shows and exhibitions offer wide-ranging agendas that provide a broad view of the industry. Smaller conferences with more focused agendas offer opportunities to delve more thoroughly into specific subjects close to your line of work. For example, the #AclaraConnect conference provides a deep dive addressing topics like DERs, load control, and voltage disturbances -- that are affecting distribution grid.
2: How much does the conference cost?
It is important to determine total costs up front when attending a trade show or conference and avoid unexpected costs for meals, housing, transportation between the venue and hotel, and other expenses. It’s always good to consider industry conferences that include meals and entertainment as part of the registration fee as offering good value.
3: Who are the speakers and how is the content focused?
Utility professionals should determine if speakers and the agenda of a conference are in line with their business interests before committing to attend. Going to a conference for utility professionals with specific, shared interests may be more useful than attending one covering a wide range of topics. Speakers may also be more available for extended conversations at conferences focused on a narrow range of topics. Plus, these conferences provide opportunities to spend more time learning about new solutions and taking advantage of in-depth training opportunities.
4: Who will be attending?
Networking is one of the most important reasons to attend any conference. Before committing to a conference, utility professionals should ask themselves who else will be attending. A conference focused on issues of interest to electric, water, and gas utility professionals, for example, provides opportunities for networking with peers that have similar interests and concerns, and for sharing current best practices.
5. What can be learned?
In the utility industry, narrowly focused conferences can go into depth about solutions and trends affecting specific market segments. Speakers at these conferences can tailor their presentations to attendees with aligned interests and can go into depth about solutions and trends. In addition, attendees can often can get hands-on training at better pricing at focused conferences.
A Smart Infrastructure Conference for Utilities
One conference focused on smart infrastructure solutions and how they are being implemented at electric, gas and water utilities is AclaraConnect 2018 (#AclaraConnect), being held this year at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina May 14-17. AclaraConnect started as small user’s conference 10 years ago in a St. Louis hotel ballroom, but has grown to an industry event that attracts hundreds of electric, water, and gas industry professionals who are interested in smart infrastructure solutions and the future of utilities.
AclaraConnect has changed as Aclara has transformed from providing advanced metering infrastructure to now offering end-to-end, smart infrastructure solutions comprising meters and devices, communications networks, software, and implementation services. Last year, AclaraConnect celebrated Aclara’s transformation into an industry game changer. This year’s conference, structured around the theme Come Together. Connect for a Better Future, will focus on the power of coming together as a team to tackle challenges, open new avenues of economic growth, and transform the industry through innovation.
AclaraConnect offers unparalleled opportunities for utility representatives to gain new skills, glean new perspectives and connect with colleagues from around the globe. Designed to inspire and inform, the extensive program includes real-world case studies, insights into technology innovations, panels with leaders and innovators, actionable takeaways, and abundant networking opportunities.
Justify your trip and learn more by visiting the AclaraConnect.