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5 Ways to Get the Most Out of a Conference

There is no better place to increase your awareness of new trends in your field than an industry conference.  Some people use industry conferences as an opportunity to expand their existing network.  These new connections can turbocharge your career and the presentations and seminars can teach you things you can’t pick up elsewhere.

But with so many speakers to hear and so many panels to attend, conferences may seem a little overwhelming.  This sentiment rings especially true for those who are new to the professional conference scene.

If that describes you, here are 5 ways to get the most out of a conference.

get most out of a business conference

  1. Have a goal
    What are you hoping to learn from this conference?  Determine what you hope to gain from the conference before you get there.  Going to a conference without any goals can be a waste of time and money.  Your goals don’t have to be very specific.  They can be as simple as meeting new people, gaining awareness about a particular topic, or to better yourself and bring new knowledge back to your team.  If there is a particular person you’d like to meet, carve out time to accomplish that goal.  If that person is a speaker or a presenter, send an email prior to the event and introduce yourself.  Let the person know that you’re coming to his/her session and that you’re eager to meet them.  Whenever possible, let them know how you can help them; they may be more inclined to spend some extra time talking with you!
  2. Find out who the speakers are
    Before you make the decision to go, we recommend that you determine who the speakers are.  Then, do some research on Youtube or Google and watch their videos online.  By doing so, you’ll get a sense for their style and substance.  Plus, it will give you an idea how much value they’ll bring to their upcoming presentations.  This is also a great opportunity to think of questions you may want to ask during or after their presentation.
  3. Register early
    We get it.  You decided to attend the conference to gain new ideas or insights about your industry.  However, the most interesting moments often occur in between or after the sessions themselves.  The conversations and interactions you have with the other attendees are often the most memorable and valuable you will have at a conference. On the day of the conference, make sure you register early.  This allows you to maximize your time meeting new people before the sessions begin.
  4. Take notes
    With days full of speakers and sessions, it can be difficult to remember everything you have learned during the conference.  To help you remember what you have learned, we recommend that you take down notes.  Also, don’t forget to write down 3 key takeaways at the end of each session.
  5. Follow up
    Make sure you follow up with everyone you met after the event.  Reach out to them. Email is a completely reasonable way to follow up with someone.  Don’t wait too long, either: you’ll want to make sure they still remember you while the event is still fresh in their mind! It’s important to keep those contacts handy, even if you don’t work together immediately.
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Reasons Why You Need a Professional Headshot

In today’s digital world, including a profile photo has become ubiquitous as email addresses. If you are a business owner or a company executive, you have probably been asked to provide a professional headshot. You might be wondering why you need one when you can just use a photo that was taken during a wedding, a formal event, or your last vacation.

Here are 3 reasons why you need a professional headshot.

Make a good impression

Most people who are interested in your business will look you up online to see what you do and who you are. Not only are they interested in what your business has to offer, they are also curious to know who the person behind that business is.

Since many of us conduct our initial interaction online, you want to make sure that you make a good digital first impression. An amateur profile picture might not look as bad on your social media account, but for potential customers and clients it may appear “unprofessional”. Think of your profile as your storefront: if it isn’t enticing, no one will walk through the front door.

Personal branding

You probably spend a lot of time and money on your website, branding, and marketing campaign. Why not focus some of that effort towards improving your personal brand?

You want your photos to be current. Clothing, hairstyles, and photography styles change over time. Most importantly, you want people to recognize you when they meet you in person. Make sure that you update your photo every 3 to 5 years.

Represent your business

You, as the business owner, are the face of your business. The photo you chose to represent you defines your brand and your business. For most people, knowing the person running the business is important towards establishing a long term relationship.

Need an example? Pretend you’re looking for a supplier online and come across 3 companies. You researched to find more information about these companies. While navigating through their site, you found a picture of the CEO. It was a casual picture of him, which was probably taken using the camera on his phone. Would you readily strike up a relationship with this company or would you instead move on to the other two?

If you’re looking for a corporate headshot photographer, please contact G. Thomas Ward Photography. You can also view my galleries to see samples of my work.

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Chicago HRU UnConference

Chicago HRU UnConference

We’re all familiar with the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words,” right? There is so much truth to that statement.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an equal idiom for videos. Videos speak volumes through their imagery, soundtrack, and when applicable, narrative or storyline. These are all reasons why filming event conferences is so compelling.

When you have professionals following your event with the cameras rolling, they capture the “magic” that brings an event together. With all the time you’ve put into promoting your event through social media, email blasts, and so on, why not film the event to show people what your conference is all about next time?

My team and I recently had the opportunity to film the Chicago HRU UnConference in, you guessed it: Chicago.

As you’ll see from the final cut of the video, we captured a lot of great moments during the event. We set up an area to interview attendees, filmed segments with keynote speakers, and shot “B-roll footage” to catch attendees and presenters in their casual interactions.

The final product is a compelling, informative story that educates the viewer on what the HRU UnConference is all about.

Just as with any event, though, a successful video shoot is only as successful as the preparation and “behind the scenes” work that isn’t always visible in the final cut. For this shoot, we provided lighting to ensure clear, bright shots.

Additionally, each interviewee and presenter was not only set up with a body microphone, but we enlisted the aid of backup microphones, just in case one were to fail, we’d still ensure the highest quality sound for everyone.

Our professional staff knows how to stage shots, capture candid moments, and we do so in a way that doesn’t interfere or distract from your event.

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The Importance of Professional Photography for Your Business

Good photographs play an important role in the success of a company. Without them, your marketing materials lack a certain flair and allure  that differentiates you from your competitors.

In an effort to save a few bucks, some business owners decide not to hire a professional photographer and may instead frantically snap a few unprofessional pictures of their product and print them on a piece of white paper. They may then tape these printouts to their store’s window and share them on social media in an attempt to inform customers of a new and exciting deal or dish.

Imagine you’ve just had a long day of meetings in a new city. Your stomach is growling so loud you’re afraid people on the street can hear it. You look up a restaurant on your phone and decide to give it a shot. When you arrive, the “menu” in the window is on yellowing paper, with underlit photos of what is described as “The City’s Best!” Chances are, you’ll survive your hunger pains for a few more doorways if it means finding a meal that looks a bit more appealing..

The photographs you use for your business can help or hurt you. Since these photos represent your business and your brand, it is important to be mindful how you appear to your customers through the photographs you take. Using poorly lit or pixelated images damage the way a potential customer view you and your business.

Beautiful, visually stimulating photos, on the other hand, help raise the perception of your business. Plus, it will help you attract more customers who will be willing to pay for your products. Whatever product or service you sell, it is important that you use professional photography at all times.

Presentation of your business is of utmost importance. Customers will feel more confident that you’re selling what you promise if they can clearly see the features of the product. Hire a photographer who can showcase your product in the best possible light.

If you are in need of a photographer who wants to help you present your company in the best possibly way, call G. Thomas Ward Photography today.

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Reasons to Hire a Professional Photographer for Your Event

The term “corporate event” covers a wide variety of gatherings, ranging from a promotional event to an annual meeting to an industry-specific gala. In this event, your employees, clients and other guests gather in one place. So much time and effort goes into putting these on, and they are often so fun; it is worth ensuring that every moment is captured.

Hiring a corporate event photographer for your event is an important, and wise, business decision. We’ve outlined just a few reasons why you should hire a professional corporate photographer for your events.

Unique skills set

Just like with any profession, professional photographers spend a lot of time and money to educate themselves and are constantly continuing that education with supplemental training to hone their skills. They use their abilities and training to capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments in the way that only a professional conference photographer can.

They focus on things big and small and pay attention to the smallest details that turn an ordinary picture into a stunning, compelling photograph.Great photography reflects well on your business. And the kicker? Great photographs drive sales.  

Consistent results

While you can always hand the camera to a friend or a staff member, there is no guarantee that they would capture great photos the way a trained corporate photographer would. When you hire a professional photographer, you are paying for their service and experience in exchange for high quality, memorable images. Remember, taking great photos more than just pushing a button.

Professionalism

A quality corporate event photographer has the commitment and composure to work for long periods, finding the “narrative” of your event and weaving these stories together in a truly special way. Corporate photographers also maintain a level of professionalism your brother-in-law or friend may not. They are working for you, and they are invested in your satisfaction and their results.

Equipment

There is no denying that having good equipment is one of the key factors towards achieving great quality photos. Photography and camera equipment is expensive. A digital camera or the camera on your phone isn’t going to cut it. Don’t trust your event to just anyone; hire the pros!  

Professional editing

A professional photographer doesn’t just hand you a flash drive containing all of the pictures that were taken during the event when they’re done. Part of the service and product offering is that your corporate event photographer takes the time to edit your images to ensure that they are properly exposed, cropped and color corrected.

When your next corporate event is on the calendar, give the professionals at G. Thomas Ward Photography a call and learn how we can work for you.

reasons-to-hire-a-corporate-event-phootgrapher-in-chicago

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Tips for Hosting an Engaging Business Conference

Conferences are often hubs and incubators of incredible learning experiences. But with the long hours of lectures and presentations, along with the copious amount of information presented, business conferences can quickly become tedious.  

Here are a few tips for hosting an engaging business conference.

tips-for-hosting-an-engaging-business-conference-chicago

Plan in advance

Planning a conference is no easy feat. As a host, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you! Knowing that, it is crucial that you get started as early as possible to give yourself time to finalize major contracts and handle any unexpected problems that may arise.

Consider the venue

Where you decide to host your conference is one of the most difficult decisions you will need to make. One of the reasons why most people think of business conferences as dull and boring is because of the choice of venue. Make your conference one to remember by choosing a venue that has quality (and close) entertainment options.

Consider holding your conference in an area with a lot of activity such as a hotel located close to restaurants, shopping centers, and entertainment venues. Another option is to time your conference with a local event like music festival. This will provide attendees and their spouses with something to do away from the conference.

Offer a program with variety

The main purpose of a conference is to share as much information as possible. Professionals sit for several hours and listen to lectures and presentations. A few hours into the conference, you may notice that the attendees are bored, sleepy and overwhelmed.

Don’t forget to engage them! Schedule a mix of formal speakers, small group workshops and free, unopposed networking time. It is also a good idea to set a task that is difficult, if not impossible, to complete alone. This fosters teamwork and collaboration.

Plan for fun

Plan for interactive networking opportunities to break break up the monotony of guest lecturers and speakers. Also, try to use technology to make things a bit more exciting for guests and to keep them interested. You can also suggest a few activities for downtime during the conference.

If you are considering hosting a business conference, please consider G. Thomas Ward Photography as your corporate event photography. It would be my pleasure to work with you!

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The Original ClassicCurl Roller Product Shoot

G. Thomas Ward Photography takes great pride in being able to help businesses in the Chicago area present themselves online and in marketing efforts. With clients ranging from Cartier to small businesses just getting their feet wet, G. Thomas Ward Photography takes the time to understand the needs and wishes of business clients looking for a professional product shoot.

Recently, we were honored to work with Scumaci International and help with the launch of their newest product, The Original ClassiCurl Roller. Please read Mina’s story below:

“I’ve been a licensed cosmetologist for over 25 years and a salon owner for 20+ years. As a professional, the current rollers on the market were not meeting my needs which led me to create an innovative roller, trademarked The Original ClassiCurl Roller. These patented rollers will help all women achieve a salon look at home and assist cosmetologist in creating their desired end result.

classicurl rollerA typical day for me starts at 7:00am. After getting my children off to school, I go to my local CrossFit box for an awesome workout. When I return home, it is all about building the ClassiCurl brand, with a sound body there is a sound mind. I feel most fulfilled when I see results from the tasks we complete every day. It could be processing an order or connecting with fellow stylist. We are very passionate about helping women feel beautiful and give them alternate ways to style their hair.

It was always a dream of mine to have a professional photo shoot. With working in the industry for so long, it was great to have that dream realized. It was a pleasure working with Gary of G. Thomas Ward Photography. Gary and I collaborated by me sharing my vision for the shoot and he offered his experienced input. The shoot was done in a very professional and efficient manner. I highly recommend G. Thomas Ward Photography and will use him again in the future!

I’m inspired by women entrepreneurs as they can juggle their home life and careers. This is an incredible journey, unlike anything I have ever experienced or imagined. Although entrepreneurs may experience ups and downs, I’m enjoying the process and having fun! The most critical influence is my drive for success. I want to show my 3 kids that hard work, determination, and drive will bring you success!

We’re thrilled to announce that we will be launching a 30 and 60 second national commercial that will air over 200 times on 10 major networks for the next 12 months….stay tuned!
Please check out our website at www.classicurl.com”

For more information about how to book G. Thomas Ward for your next professional product shoot, please contact Gary today.

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Tips for Hosting an Engaging Business Conference

Conferences can be incredible learning experiences. But with the hours of lectures, presentations, and the deluge of information presented, business conferences have the potential to become tedious really quickly.

Here are a few tips for hosting an engaging business conference.

Plan in advance

Planning a conference is no easy feat. As a host, you will need to do a lot of work, both before and during the conference. It is important to get started as early as possible to give yourself some time to finalize major contracts and handle any unexpected problems that may arise.

Consider the venue

Where you will host the conference is one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make. One of the reasons most people think of business conferences as dull and boring is because of the choice of venue. Make your event one to remember by choosing a venue that has entertainment options.

Consider holding it in an area with a lot of activity like a hotel that is close to restaurants, shopping centers, and entertainment venues. Another option is to time your conference with a local event like a music festival. This will provide attendees and their companions with something to do outside of the conference.

Offer a program with variety

The main purpose of a conference is to share as much information as possible. Lots of conferences simply put their attendees in uncomfortable chairs and have their presenters parade on and off the stage giving lectures and presentations. A few hours into the conference, you may notice that the attendees are bored, sleepy, and overwhelmed.

Don’t forget to engage your attendees. Schedule a mix of formal speakers, small group workshops, and free networking time. It is also a good idea to set a task that is difficult, but not impossible, to complete as a team. This will foster teamwork and collaboration.

Plan for fun

You should plan for interactive networking opportunities to break things up a bit. Also, try to use technology to make things a bit more exciting for guests and to keep them interested, and encourage participation on social media with hashtags and keywords. You can also suggest a few activities for downtime during the conference.

tips for hosting an engaging business conference

 

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4 Ways Team Building Activities Can Benefit Your Company

As you probably know, your company’s success rests in the hands of your people. As such, team building activities not only benefit your employees, but your entire organization.

As more and more businesses realize the benefits of team building activities, companies of all sizes are incorporating team building programs into their training curriculum.

Here are 4 ways team building activities can benefit your company.

Keep employees motivated

Team building activities helps your employees grow. These activities are designed to help them develop new skills, conquer fears, and increase their knowledge.

By organizing a team building activity, you display to your team how much you value and care for them. When employees feel that you care about their success, they are more likely to feel motivated and take pride in their job, which often results in increased quality output.

Improves communication

In a corporate environment, employees have to work with different people. Since we all have different personalities, some employees may have a hard time dealing with their co-workers. Team building activities can help in this department.

The fun nature of team building exercises can help foster better communication among people. Since this is usually done outside the office, employees can mingle and communicate with their colleagues casually. After this, they’ll develop better relationships with their co-workers create a more positive working environment.

Moreover, it is a great opportunity for employees in various departments that may not normally interact with one another to get a chance to spend time together and get to know each other.

Increases productivity

The collaborative nature of team building activities teaches staff how they can use their skills and abilities to get the tasks done quickly and efficiently. It also challenges them to work together in order to solve the problems that they are currently facing.

Help your team recharge

Most employees spend the entire day at their desks, working on several tasks. Add their personal concerns into the mix, and you run the risk of having a stressed-out, burned-out employee that isn’t as productive as they might otherwise be.

Employees often see team building activities as a nice break from work. This allows them to get their minds off of work, if even for just a few hours. Because of this, your staff will come back to the office with a relaxed mind and ready to take on new projects.

4 ways team building activities can benefit your company