Before the Conference
1 – Gain Visibility
One of the best ways you can make the most out of your conference experience is by participating in some manner – such as being a committee volunteer, session facilitator, or presenter. (When you get the first posting about the conference, confirm whether these options are available, or you can try emailing the conference organiser to make an enquiry.) Whilst at the conference, chances are that you’ll be surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of other members, depending on the conference delegate management, but if you have a recognisable role at the event, it will be a great way of distinguishing yourself from the pack.
2 – Build Stronger Relationships
A conference is an excellent avenue to meet new acquaintances and advance the existing relationships you’ve got. If you’ve got individuals attending the conference you want to get to know further or you are thinking about reconnecting with – friends-of-friends, vendors, clients – contact them a couple of weeks prior to the conference to arrange a sit-down with them while at the function.
At the Conference
3 – Get Briefed
Most conferences have an extra welcoming session for beginners and will host a briefing purposefully meant for newbies. You’ll want to include this kind of session in your schedule – not only to have an overview of what to expect but to meet up with other first-timers just like yourself who don’t know anything and want to create new relationships.
4 – Select the Right Sessions
In many of the conferences, there will be an overload of meetings to select from – so many than one person can attend! Therefore, when you’re coming up with your schedule, ensure that you’ve reviewed the conference in general. Check out all the events and sessions you may be interested in, then ensure that you’ve attended a broad selection of topics, social events, and building sessions, while still leaving room for some downtime.
If you attend a session and discover that it isn’t what you had envisaged, don’t fret about skipping it and moving on to a different one. The whole purpose of a conference is utilising your time prudently and harnessing the most from the event.
5 – Don’t Forget What You’ve Learned
With a whole set of days filled with sessions and speakers, there’s a ton of info to absorb – and chances are that you won’t remember everything when you return home. Because of this, ensure that you’ve gathered your information and notes in a manner that makes it convenient to access when you get back to the workplace. Irrespective of the format you choose to take your notes with (smartphone, tablet, laptop, pen and paper), at the conclusion of every session you go to, note down the key takeaways you’ve acquired and any follow-up you wish on the subject matter. This will aid in jogging up your memory and provide you with exact things to do when your return to your workplace.
6 – Connect With The Speakers
Chances are that the panellists and speakers at any conference are specialists in your sector – read: individuals you should know. Don’t be afraid when it comes to asking questions you have or hang back at the end of the session to say a quick hi, show your appreciation for the presentation they’ve made, and take their business cards. If you’re unfortunate enough not to get the opportunity of asking your queries, you can use Twitter to make a follow-up.
7 – Schmooze at the Social Events
Conferences are a great platform to connect and chit chat with key individuals in a more relaxed environment. Even when the event has concluded, hang back and start up a conversation with somebody you think may assist your future endeavours.