Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to attend numerous professional conferences and I found it quite difficult to find information on the internet of what exactly was expected of me. After some trials and triumphs, I began to learn some ways to make a statement and get the most out of professional conferences. For some people the goal may be networking, getting your name out, learning new skills or just getting exposed to professionals in your field. Whatever your goal is, this list of conference tips should help you navigate the conference and get the most out of your experience.
My Top 10 Professional Conference Tips
- Research before you go. Research the city and speakers so that you know what to expect.
- Make sure you look the part. Remember you are your own walking talking brand.
- Don’t forget to bring lots of business cards. Running out of business cards on the first day of the conference doesn’t make you cool, it makes you unprepared. If you’re as forgetful as I am, set a reminder on your phone to add them to your bags the night before.
- Take notes. On everything, the people, the keynote, the food.
- Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to new people. Easier said than done, but two tips have always helped me
- A glass of red wine (it’s social lubricant and gives you something to do with your hands)
- Pretend everyone is there to meet you.
- Be vocal. If you have questions, ask them. Most of the time someone else has the same question and is just afraid to ask.
- Focus on your weaknesses. When choosing conference sessions, attend the sessions that focus on your weakest skills.
- Network horizontally, not just vertically. Or vice versa, if you tend to do the opposite. Remember having a diverse network is the goal.
- When you get someones business card, write something on it that will help you remember the person. This avoids the awkward and impersonal follow-ups post conference.
- Have fun. Your energy will always tell the truth about how you feel at the conference, especially in extremely social settings . Enjoy yourself and you will certainly get more out of the experience.