Q&A: LMA Leader Offers Tips for Attending Annual Conference in Atlanta

More than 1,500 professionals will converge on Atlanta next month for the 2019 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference. The April 8-10 event, to be held at the Hyatt Regency, will offer dozens of breakout sessions and networking opportunities, so it’s important to think in advance about how to get the greatest value out of attendance.

With this in mind, Infinite Global caught up with Gia Altreche, an LMA West Regional Board Director, member of the Annual Conference Advisory Committee, and Director of Business Development and Marketing at Newmeyer & Dillion. As she prepares for her fifth year attending the event, Gia weighs in on making the most of the annual conference and the impact it has had on her own career. How can attendees make the most of their LMA national conference experience?

Prepare, prepare, prepare! The saying “when you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail” is so true when it comes to the LMA Annual Conference. There’s so much to see and do while you are at the conference that taking time to get everything in line before the start can help ensure you make the most of it. My “must do’s” for getting ready include:

  • Confirm the best sessions to attend! I take a look at the sessions that directly impact my role right now, and sessions that can help take my team and our services to the next level. I love looking at who is speaking as well, as everyone offers a unique perspective to the topic.
  • Make time for the business partners. What better way to check out the scene on either what’s new or what’s needed at a firm than chatting up the business partners in the exhibit hall? They have a ton of great insight and it saves time in the long run to get a rundown of what is available.
  • Did you download the app? Oh, how I love my technology. The app has so many great ways to ensure I stay in the loop with everything going on at the conference. We all know it is a lot, so why not have it easily on your phone? I can set up my schedule, participate in polling and reviews, and more.
  • Connect! I mean, there is nothing better than the time I have with my LMA peeps. Sometimes, this may be the only time I see them all year. Finding opportunities to meet, such as reaching out to determine which programs they are attending or to connect in the exhibit hall, are a priority for me. Equally important is taking time to get to know new faces.
  • Take notes and report! Attending the Annual Conference is an investment that my firm offers as an opportunity to continue my professional development. So, I make sure – whether they ask or not – to report on what I learned and how it can add to the firm’s initiatives and my team’s capabilities.

How can attendees best put to use what they learn at the conference?

I would highly recommend taking immediate action. There’s nothing like putting the information to use immediately to keep it top of mind.

When at the conference, it can be very helpful to take notes during sessions in a way that makes sense to you and allows you to understand the concepts fully when referring back to them. Make time to wrap up your thoughts before beginning the next session. A simple question I ask myself is, “How can this information help?” Within my wrap-up, I jot down all the ideas that come to mind. Then plan to put a day aside on your schedule when you return where you can unpack what you have learned and create a plan on using the information.

Other great ways to ensure you put the information to use is to offer insight to your team on key themes, lessons learned and overarching ah-ha moments. Share specific details with those who may own that particular responsibility. Offer to speak at your next attorney, leadership and/or partner meeting on legal trends and analysis. Regardless of the activity, remember: Put it into immediate action.

How have you benefitted from attending the LMA Annual Conference in previous years?

The LMA Annual Conference has been a key factor in continuing my professional growth in every stage of my career. At the beginning of my career, attending the conference was like drinking from the fire hose learning all the many lanes within legal marketing. Simultaneously to learning the skills to lay a foundation in legal marketing, attending the conference opened my eyes to the many niche career positions available. As I moved into roles of specialist, manager and now director, the Annual Conference offered access on how I could dig deeper into my concentration and target topics that I could take back to my team to help elevate our services. Unfortunately, my entire team cannot attend, so it’s important to think about what insight I can bring back to assist in helping them grow their individual careers.

Plus, the network of amazing individuals I have had an opportunity to meet during each conference has been invaluable. Many of these colleagues have become friends and contacts I’ve leaned on throughout the years. And, in turn, they’ve leaned on me. These relationships have grown into amazing opportunities, including speaking during pre-conferences twice, and now as a member of the Annual Conference Advisory Committee, helping to put together another valuable, engaging conference. I couldn’t recommend attending more! 

What do you hope to get out of this year’s event?

This year I am looking at the LMA Annual Conference from a different lens, as I have had the opportunity to be a member of the Advisory Committee. For almost a year, our committee has reviewed programs, discussed up-and-coming topics facing our members, worked with speakers on programs and thought of ways to take the conference to the next level.

I’m in awe of my fellow committee members, their experience and the level of thoughtful dialogue we have had to ensure member attendees at every level have access to insight to help elevate their experience. Therefore, I am so excited to see the conference come to fruition. There are so many interesting topics and incredible speakers, I’m excited to get my hands on all of these valuable takeaways! Plus, as a director of a regional firm with a smaller team, it’s important to understand many of these topics deeply, like what and who are the disruptors in the legal industry? How does a firm of our size create a competitive advantage? This is just one of the many topics being covered.

Jesse Dungan is an Associate Vice President at Infinite Global, where he helps professional services firms develop and execute strategic public relations initiatives. He can be reached at jessed@infiniteglobal.com.

What tips do you have for making the most of the LMA Annual Conference? Share them with us on Twitter or LinkedIn using #LMAtips and we may feature them in a future LMA blog post.

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