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The ICMI Conference Experience: Through a Newbie's Eyes

ICMI knows how to throw a party. I had the fortune of attending their Expo and Conference this year in Orlando, FL.  Speaking at a major conference for the first time, I was pretty much a ball of nervous energy for the first two days.  Even so, I managed to pull out several great learnings which I will memorialize and share right here on this blog.

1.    Engage With Peers On Social Media

Twitter is the first big (unexpected) win.  I hated Twitter at the beginning of last year.  It seemed like a giant hodge-podge of worthless information.  Roy Atkinson and others helped me to stick with it, and now I see Twitter as an even more powerful networking tool than LinkedIn.  Walking into the expo the first day, I thought I was completely alone.  As it turns out, I had walked into a room full of friends with which I had developed a great relationship with through sharing knowledge on Twitter.  It was an absolute blast learning from and engaging with them in person.  My favorite moment of the whole conference was sitting on a panel for a live twitter chat complete with Sean B Hawkins, Leslie O’Flahavan, Neal Topf, Erica Strother Marois, and Jeff Toister.

#ICMIchat Panel at ICMI's Contact Center Expo and Conference 


The best way to not just have a “conference” experience, but a much deeper and sustainable experience is to engage with industry experts on Twitter.  Two of the greatest chats are #icmichat on Tuesdays at 1:00 PM EST and the #custserv chat on Tuesdays at 9:00 PM EST.

2.    Have Fun

was really confused when I first got my speaker ratings back.  I gave two completely different types of sessions.  My first was around the “Effortless Experience” and how to balance this with customer delight.  It was very well researched and heavy on the content side.  I expected this to be by far the more popular and highly rated session of the two.  The second was way more about having an exciting dialog in the room and learning a topic, gamification, together.  I had way less solid content and I was afraid I might take a bath in the ratings for taking a (very) nontraditional approach.  The “Effortless Experience” session was ranked 18 out of 44, whereas the Gamification session received a 9 out of 44!!

I still can’t believe that result.  It tells me that if people want to listen to someone drone on about a particular topic for an hour, they can find that on YouTube.  If they are showing up, in person, to a conference, we as speakers need to give them a unique live experience.  Find ways to extrapolate great ideas from those gathered in the room….engage them with games and prizes…whatever it takes to have them walk out of the room feeling as though they all shared in something special.

3.    Put Yourself Out There

We learn so much more through the process of contributing to industry knowledge rather than just being satisfied as a consumer.  You do not have to be some type of call center wizard to contribute to the conversation.  Those who have the courage to express their opinions get to have those thoughts developed and refined.  I was so nervous when I saw that the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) was at the ICMI conference in full force.  A big part of my “Effortless Experience” session was on their book, and one of the contributing editors was present in the session!  Instead of discouraging me, the CEB was incredibly supportive and helped me to understand several things about the concept.  It was a major confidence booster for me and helped to bring the concept to the next level for future sessions.

Overall an incredible experience!  A huge thank you to ICMI for putting on such a fantastic conference.  I, for one, can’t wait for the next event!


Ready to experience an ICMI event for yourself? Join us this October in Las Vegas for Contact Center Demo and Conference. Register by September 4th and save $200.