February 1, 2018

How To Get The Most From Your Company Kickoff

It’s kickoff season for many companies. A chance to gather large, often dispersed, teams together, and align them for the coming year. These are often filled with learning about new trends in the market, company announcements, and the sharing of goals – and hopefully, some fun, productive team building, and social time embedded.

From a little pre-work before you walk in the door, to ensuring you maximize your time while you attend, here’s what you need to know to make the most of your next conference.  


Grab a shovel

One of the best ways to maximize your experience is to find a way to get involved in the event itself. Whether it is becoming a presenter, facilitating a breakout, or even handing out badges at the registration desk, there are typically a multitude of roles that need to be played, and volunteers are often welcome. By taking on a visible role, you set yourself up to stand out from the crowd.  

Book some time with colleagues

Often, casual connections will be made during these events that lead to productive conversations, new collaborations, etc. However, if you reach out to people you are looking forward to seeing and/or those you are eager to get to know...plan out the time before the chaos begins.

Plan out your topics and sessions ahead of time

The apps and agendas are there for a reason: use them to plan your days effectively, but recognize you can’t control every minute. Know what’s really important for you to attend, and where you can be flexible. You’ll have the opportunity to attend lots and lots of sessions, but the impromptu meeting will pop up, a customer will call, and you might just plain need a break to walk around and clear your head. Take a look at the agenda, and commit to the sessions that will maximize your skills, understanding and engagement...then you can plot out a bit of time to accomplish everything else.


Put the technology away 

In our hyperconnected world, it’s often hard to put the phone in our bag or shut the computer. Try it. When you put technology out of reach, you force yourself to pay attention and engage. Isn’t that really why you are there in the first place? Don’t fear, there are breaks built in not just to connect with people but to address those of us who truly can’t pull away.  

Take some time to get to know some new people 

There is typically time built in to do this and it can make a huge difference in terms of helping you to step out of your comfort zone, and maximize your experience. No worries, no need to be a raging extrovert. Build your confidence to meet new people by buddying up with a known colleague, sitting next to someone new at lunch, or challenge yourself to talk to someone from another team during one of the social events. You just might find a new, tremendous collaborator.

Take notes

Kickoffs and conferences alike can be overwhelming with so much information to absorb in such a short period of time. Take notes and review the info when you get back. Commit to capturing three key takeaways from each session, along with any notes you might have for following up with the speaker or topic. Once you are back at your desk, you’ll be organized.


You didn’t just attend to sit and listen

Embrace the opportunity you just had to continuously learn and apply what you learned. Kickoffs are designed to enable you to be more kicking more a** than you already are.

Bring it back to the office

Don’t just think of a kickoff or conference as some fun time out of the office; take the time to connect with new friends and colleagues after it’s over.  Share your notes and takeaways with those we weren’t able to attend. Share something you learned with your boss. Putting your learnings into action doesn’t just bring it to life in your “real world,”  – it allows you to pay it forward to others, potentially bettering you all in the process.

In short, exit your time away better than when you entered into it. Maybe you have gained a little more knowledge, made some new connections, or walked away inspired with new context about how to do your job better. Whatever you gain, that’s only possible if you maximize your time before, during and after your attendance. Happy learning!

Christina Luconi is Chief People Officer for Rapid7. Follow her on Twitter: @peopleinnovator.

Image courtesy of Teemu Paananen on Unsplash.