Before webinars, podcasts and YouTube, in order to stay up to date in your profession you had to meet with actual people in an actual room at a conference or networking event. Crazy, right? You’re probably reaching for your hand sanitizer just thinking about all that human contact to avoid.

But even in 2018, trade shows and conferences are an important channel for many B2B vendors. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Marketing Profs, 75% of their respondents said they saw a positive future for trade show marketing.

I’ve just returned from the annual SLA Conference held in Baltimore this year. The conference was focused on information and knowledge management. As you can see from the picture of my name badge I’ve been pretty actively involved in SLA for some time now.

Why do I keep going year after year? In a word, (if you let acronyms slide by as a word), it’s because of FOMO (fear of missing out). I want to know what the current technologies are and learn strategies from my colleagues for becoming even more effective and insightful for my clients.

The key benefits of attending the conference this year were:

  • Conversations with exhibitors in the Info-Expo who were showing off their new products and services. I like hearing about new trends, what’s hot, what’s selling, and what customers are asking for. The vendors are usually very good about sharing.
  • Information sessions and panel discussions about business tactics and new strategies. Being a sole proprietor means you have to keep a lot of plates spinning – marketing, promotion, process improvements, new customer acquisition, and current customer maintenance. Its very beneficial to hear about how my colleagues have solved similar problems.
  • Networking events were particularly fun this year. I rotated from swinging a ping-pong paddle, to a Fellows gathering, and mentoring a new member. I’ve learned just as much about the industry from a casual conversations as in formal sessions.

Session Insight

One session I found interesting discussed a formula for creating more effective research queries for the health care industry. The heath care industry uses evidence-based research to guide diagnosis and treatment protocols. PICO is a template for preparing better queries of the evidence-based research databases. PICO stands for:

  • Population:     What is the population that the query relates to?
  • Intervention:  What intervention is being investigated or questioned?
  • Comparison:   What therapies are being compared?
  • Outcome:         What outcome is being investigated?

I think this the formula will be very useful for bringing rigor to the reference interview process. For example, an information query might be: “Is bariatric surgery recommended for my type 2 diabetes?” Restating this query using the PICO formula, we have:

  • P    The population is obese patients with Type 2 diabetes
  • I     The intervention is whether to use bariatric surgery
  • C    The comparison is to see if surgery is more effective than the patient’s current treatment
  • O    The outcome to investigate is whether the treatment positively effects the patient’s diabetes symtoms

The formula brings clarity to the information research process, which should save time and money. A follow on benefits of PICO is that the formula can be applied to querying many types of information databases.

The conference provides a myriad of professional insights and updates making it a worthwhile investment every time.