Photo: Robb McCormick Photography –

Hello all, I don’t know if you are like me, but I love to attend conferences, and there are so many reasons why I love them. I really enjoy connecting with people who have a passion similar to mine, and I love getting fantastic ideas for things to do, or things to dig a bit deeper into, when I return home. I want to share with you today 5 tips that can help you get the most out of your symposium experience.

1. Download the app and start looking at the sessions to decide what you want to attend.

Don’t just pick the sessions where people you know are presenting, challenge yourself to go beyond the normal presentations you attend. Do you work with clients? Go to one of the academic sessions where someone researched extensively and figure out how to apply that research to the work you do with clients. Do you do work in academia? Go to a presentation about using tools or resources to see how your research, or future research, can support those who work face to face with clients daily. Shake things up when it comes to attending sessions this year. Don’t forget to learn something new at the poster sessions as well. Then, at the end of each session, write down three things you will do when you return home. I also suggest downloading the presentation slides that are available – not only for the presentations you attend, but for the presentations that you would like to have attended. It’s impossible to attend them all.

2. Make new connections.

Of course, you should spend time with the people that you know. You may only see these folks every couple of years. But don’t forget to make new connections. Try to sit with people who you don’t know, talk to each other, and learn from each other. The world expands when we connect with others. There are many ways you can connect with people so that you can stay in touch. Business cards, social media, LinkedIn profiles, QR codes, email, or text. Decide which way you do best, and go with it. On social media, hashtags are a cool way to connect with those who share your same passion (#AFCPE19).

Challenge yourself to connect with 2-3 new people a day during the symposium, and learn something about how they fit into the field. Start by saying “HELLO”.

3. Take time to talk to each of the exhibitors and sponsors at the event.

There are a lot of people here who have a passion for what you do too. Learn about the things they offer. As someone who exhibits often, and at multiple conferences, I really love talking to people about what they do as much as I enjoy talking to them about what our program is about. So stop by and visit the people in the exhibit hall. You never know where a new connection through vendors will lead.

Challenge yourself to talk to each exhibitor during the three days the exhibit hall is open.

4. Get involved with AFCPE.

There are so many great opportunities to get involved, and many of them don’t take a lot of time throughout the year. While at the symposium, talk with task force members, committee chairs, or board members to see where you might engage or serve. I have been involved in multiple task force committees and it has been very rewarding. AFCPE needs you to participate to make the organization continue to be beneficial to us all.

Challenge yourself to join a task force or learn other ways to get involved.

5. Put what you’ve learned into practice.

When you get back home it is time to put all the great things you wrote down into practice, charge forward with new plans for research, or connect with new people that you met again. Don’t forget to read through the presentations you downloaded too. Attending the symposium can recharge your passion.

Challenge yourself  to get the most of the symposium! I will be around and look forward to connecting with you whether at a session, the Zeiders exhibit booth, or during the many networking opportunities.

Andi Wrenn MA, AFC® is the Provider Network Manager for the Personal Financial Counselor program at Zeiders Enterprises, Inc. She has been an active AFCPE® member since working toward her certification, serving on multiple AFCPE task forces over the years, and is currently on the AFPCE® Board of Directors. She has a passion for connecting with other financial professionals and mentoring them to be the best financial professional they can be.

One response to “Challenge Yourself: Getting the Most out of the AFCPE Symposium”

  1. Well said. There is Value in each suggested challenge as we come up to AFCPE Symposium-Portland. Make every moment at AFCPE count. Count for you, your clients and the future of the profession. Make a difference today and everyday.

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