5 tips to make the most of a conference
Make the most of a conference this year
Conferences are super fun and can be very stimulating. They are also big time eaters and expensive. It’s important to make sure that you maximize every opportunity.
How can you make the most out of a conference? Here are 5 easy tips:
1. Have a strategy
I would love to attend many conferences on topics that interest me. But I also have a job so I have to make sure that I make good choices that are in line with my professional goals. I need to factor in not only what is good for my company and professional development, but also what is best for my career. Participating usually means taking a day or two away from the job, sometimes longer with travel. Some of the bigger events can also be very costly. Carrying out thorough research is important and making a case to your boss for corporate sponsorship is worth the effort. If your company will pay so much the better. If they won’t offer to speak or run a workshop because frequently speakers get a complimentary pass.
2. Get the conference app
Today most big events have Apps where you can find the programme, plus a list of all participants and speakers together with a short bio, this gives you an ideal opportunity to connect with people before you go. Everyone finds this useful, but especially introverts or anyone who likes networking as much as going to the dentist. Connect with the attendees and even speakers who will be helpful to you. Sometime these apps have an internal communication channel. That is a huge bonus although not everyone remembers to look.
3. Leverage social media
Social media plays a role in all major and even minor conferences. Leverage social media to let people know you will be there and to drive traffic to you. Very often there will be a conference hashtag. Use it to find out who else us active and set up Twitter updates around it. Twitter is democratic and I have been able to connect with some very cool people just by tweeting about their speech or workshop. I also take photos with people. Most are usually OK with having their photos published on social media but do make sure they are flattering. It’s another reason to stay in touch. If it’s a selfie then at least they will remember your face.
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4. Face to face
Set up as many meetings as you can but also allow time for random encounters. These can be just as valuable as organised appointments. Many events have quiet spaces where you can find a corner to have a one on one chat away from the melee. Remember to check on your stock of business cards and if the person doesn’t have one connect immediately on LinkedIn. Also better for the environment.
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5. Look up from your phone
I’ve noticed in conferences people are so engrossed in their phones not just tweeting about the event but catching up on work emails. Don’t forget to look up from your phone and engage with the person next to you. It’s not just about the content you will miss from so-called multi-tasking, you never know who you will encounter!
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