10 Countdown Tips for the BCI Conference

Are you going to be at the 2012 Annual Global BCI Conference?  Here are our top tips for getting the most out of it…!

Have you started working out which talks you’ll be going to and whom you’ll be arranging to meet for lunch?

No, us neither, but we’re going to start today!  And to that end, we’re offering our top ten survival preparation tips for making sure you get the most out of the two days – and have a great time.

As usual, they’re our personal tips… but we stand by them all!

1. Find out which of your contacts are going and make a plan to meet them – now.  Yes, we know it’s supposed to be all about the “conference” but, let’s face it, how often do we have a chance to catch up with people we like over coffee, lunch or a beer/glass of wine?  We genuinely get the best tips and meet the nicest new people when we’re just catching up with individuals we’ve bothered to call and make plans with.   And it’s the people we genuinely like, and who like us, who turn out to be most useful in the end, so it’s simply good sound business practice to do this! And how nice is it to be contacted beforehand by someone else who will be there? We call it making time for/investing in our friendships; some people call it networking… whatever.

2. Circle the talks you really want to attend, and then play it by ear on the rest.  There will be speakers or topics that are of real interest to you, so identify them now and make sure you know when and where they are.  Around that, try not to plan too far ahead.  It gives you a chance to hear what others are going to, any buzz around a particular speaker or topic, and to make time for catch ups with people you haven’t seen in a while (see 1).  You can download the programme here.

3. Do the exhibition bit during a slot where there isn’t a session you’re particularly desperate to hear.  The stands get busy during break and lunchtimes and nobody wants to queue.  Plus those working the stands will pay you more attention, be in less of a hurry and more keen to spend time with you when there isn’t a crowd.

4.  Make notes on all the technology-based systems exhibited that you aren’t going to buy.  Is it just us or does a month not pass without someone in our organisation asking why we don’t have a certain piece of software or technology they had in their last organisation/read about on the internet/heard about from their cousin’s aunt?  Make a point of checking out all the systems on offer.  Make notes on things you like about them and things that make it not work for you. You may surprise yourself and find something you can use or amend.  But mostly we think you might be inspired by one small element of some of the things you see that could make a huge difference to the way you do something internally (without buying anything) and, more importantly, when that person asks why you haven’t bought something you have ammo!   Turn to your notes and say, “Ah yes, I checked that out again in the Autumn and it’s still not good enough for us because…“.  And then smile sweetly, of course, because you did your homework and do know better!

5.  Make a note of the following establishments: The Queens Head, The Brook Green Pub and Hotel, Popeseye Steak House, Betty Blythe Tea Room and the Persian restaurants.  These are the places the locals know and frequent.  We know this because Continuity Towers is just around the corner!  Others going to the conference will refresh themselves with venues at the conference or maybe consider the Pizza Express or pub on the corner.  And don’t forget you are 10 minutes walk from High Street Kensington and 20 minutes from Westfield.  You are spending two-days outside the office doing very legitimate, vitally important networking (see 1) so don’t waste it!

  • Popeseye, Blythe Road – they only serve steak (and chips) – choose your cut and weight because that’s the only choice you get to make!
  • Betty Blythe Tea Room, Blythe Road – what… is afternoon tea not as acceptable as the pub or a steak?  We love this place, and you can sneak a cupcake back for the next session!
  • Queens Head, Brook Green – very good pub with a nice garden and delicious, reasonably priced food and Doombar on tap.
  • Brook Green Hotel, Shepherds Bush Road – Not cheap but good food and beer that won’t completely blow your expenses.  If you’re staying overnight, the accommodation here is much nicer than the Hilton.
  • Persian Resturants, on Hammersmith Road just before it turns into Kensington High Street – Very, very good food and the occassional some of them are open 24 hours.  Do not go to Pizza Express when these are just across the street..!
6. If you want to speak to the speakers, wait for them at the end of the session or offer them coffee.  You’re paying to hear them speak; there’s always a reason they’ve chosen to speak; don’t be shy.  If there’s a queue then jot and handover a note with your email or phone number and ask them for a coffee during the conference or, if it’s convenient, after the conference.  Offer to buy the coffee and most speakers will happily give you a little time.  Half the point of the conference is to talk to people, and the rest is to find out things you need/want to know, so milk it.  It’s allowed.  It should be mandatory.
7.  Take notes, even when the slides are handed out.  Let’s face it, who re-reads slides or reviews pages and pages of notes?   You’re going to find the speakers who simply read their slides-full-of-bullet-points boring (yes, you know you are, so don’t shoot us for saying it!) and you’re going to be much more interested in the ones that are mostly pictures or diagrams but have no bullet points at all.  So you need to take notes on anything you actually want to remember.  You might be the transcribing type or you may just take headlines.  We think good conference notes end up being no more than 4 x A4 pages in total and consist of:
  • the 20 points you actually want to remember and will put into action
  • contact details of the 9 speakers you really liked, the 6 people you were introduced to by people you know and the 1 person you were stuck in the coffee queue, of which the most sensible of you will contact 2 or 3 to offer them a coffee (see 1)
  • a few bullet points of each of the technology systems you will not buy (see 4)

8. Write a business continuity article while you are there.  Seriously.  Nearly every person at that conference is capable of writing at least a short article on something of interest to them, even if it’s ‘just’ an opinion piece.  You’ll be surrounded by inspiration and full of notions on who and what you do and don’t agree with.  Write an article and  polish it up in a session that’s a lot more boring than you’d anticipated it would be before you sat middle-middle and couldn’t get out.  Then send the article to us or your other favourite business continuity website.  Best of all?  It’s going to look like you’re seriously studious during that boring talk that no one else understood/drifted off in… and you’ll hopefully appear in search results the next time a prospective boss googles you to see if you’re ‘known’ in the industry.  Just beware: if you don’t do it while you’re there and send it off as soon as you get home, it’ll end up in the same place as your conference notes (see 7).

9.  Give yourself a target number of new people to make smalltalk with.  You might make it 1 per day, 4 per day, or 1 per session.  You don’t have to make friends with them, you don’t have to swap contact details, but you do have to say hello.  Some people are better than others at meeting new people: the secret is to know that if you speak to 15 people you may swap contact details with 6 of them and only ever catch up again with 1 of them.  But that 1 person might be your future sounding board, someone who has a policy they can share with you, someone who needs your help with something, or future colleague.  You don’t have to start a whole conversation, just make a habit of saying hello and looking like you’d be a nice person to say hello to.   In extremis, acceptable openers for the shyest among you may include:

  • Have you ever been to a BCI conference before?
  • Have you any tips on other speakers I should try to see today?
  • Are there any interesting stands in the exhibition area?
  • Do you know anyone else here today?
  • Do you think the speaker has any idea how bored we are?

10. Don’t leave just before the last session or, even worse, during it.  Stay until the end or go much earlier… there’s nothing more disheartening for speakers or those who want to stay to the end than those of us who sneak out early because, well, because we can.  It’s just not polite.

Ok that’s it.  But we reckon you’re sitting on a few top tips of your own? Please add them below…!



(Our own Charley Newnham, who wrote our business continuity course, is speaking on the first morning.  She’s declined an invitation to the ‘proper’ BCI dinner – and she says it’s not just because she’s pretty sure she’s going to upset some people with what she says – and will probably be at one of the above locations all evening… if we had to bet on it, we’d suggest the Queens Head if you want to bother her!)

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