The Social Media Strategies Summit is right around the corner. Hopefully, you’re ready with creative strategies to be a conference networking magnet and generate tons of content from the conference. Add these five Idea Magnet tips to help you take your full creative recharge back to the office.

Step 1: Decide what you want from the conference before you arrive.

Invest a few minutes and imagine a few opportunities, challenges, and issues you want to impact with information presented at the conference. If you generate more than a few, pick your top three. This will keep your most important objectives top-of-mind while you attend the keynotes, workshops, and breakout sessions.

Step 2: Capture ideas and moments of inspiration throughout the presentations.


Beyond taking notes at a conference, keep a separate running list of ideas and points of inspiration. Put the concepts that really get you thinking here, even if you don’t agree or you aren’t quite sure what to think. Maybe it’s an interesting statistic. Perhaps it’s something that connects with you on an emotional level such as by making you excited, stunned, or energized. After developing this list, organize it based on how much you relate to the information and how much these concepts intrigue you. Here’s a helpful matrix I often use as an example:

Step 3: Make strategic connections.

Revisit the objectives from Step 1 and look for strategic connections to the idea and inspirations you captured in Step 2. For example, “lessons” should be directly applicable to your interests, while “familiar” ideas may need a creative twist. You may find other strategic connections will be more challenging to identify; these often present the greatest innovation opportunities because they are out of the ordinary.

Step 4: Make unexpected connections through “and” thinking.

Making idea-generating connections begins by embracing surprising “ands” to link opposite items and situations. To elaborate, in my new book, Idea Magnets, I discuss how you can find many similarities between apples and oranges, even though many people say you can’t compare them. For example: they are both fruit, sold in the produce section of grocery stores, could complement each other in recipes and are viable options when you are hungry. To get your creative juices flowing on applying “and” thinking to seemingly disparate ideas from the conference, ask these questions:

  1. What are situations where you could mix the two things
  2. How can you exploit the malleable characteristics of the two items to transform them into something?
  3. What possibilities are there to pair them to a third thing or situation that is even more unlike the other two?

Want to try other questions like these? Check them out on page 70 of the book.

Step 5: Uncover new insights from what you think you know.

Even if some of the things shared at the conference seem like things you’ve heard before, the person sharing the ideas likely has a different perspective than you. That creates the opportunity for you to understand and appreciate those differences. Doing so can help challenge what you think you know. As speakers communicate what seem like familiar ideas, ask yourself:

  • Does this speaker have a different perspective because of being closer or further away from their situations and I am from mine?
  • Is this speaker approaching things from a more senior or junior level than I am, providing a different viewpoint?
  • Has the presenter gained different or alternative knowledge from an unrelated situation that can help me gain new understanding about what I do?

For more ideas on shifting your perspective, look at pages 55-56 of Idea Magnets.

Be the Star that Serves Other Stars

Idea Magnets are servant leaders. Even when one is seen as a star, it comes from a focus on helping others. Use these strategies for actively participating as a Social Media Strategies Summit attendee. They will help you generate many new ideas to encourage you AND your team to be the starring Idea Magnets in your organization!

Mike Brown is an author and strategist who specializes in operationalizing design thinking. His latest book, Idea Magnets, helps dynamic leaders to cultivate extreme creativity and innovative success throughout organizations. Mike founded The BrainzoomingTM Group, where his customized, collaborative approach to strategic planning, branding, and content marketing has placed him at the forefront of organizational transformation.

Editor’s Note: Mike Brown will emcee the Social Media Strategies Summit in New York City next month as well as host the pre-summit workshop Wednesday, October 10: Finding and Sharing Your Brand’s Extraordinary Stories on Social Media.

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