Getting the most out of attending a conference

I remember the first few conferences I attended, I was not sure what to expect and how to get the most out of it. Since then I have attended and spoke a lot of conferences, I believe I now know how to get what I need out of them. I thought I would put a short list of ways to get the most out of attending any conference.

  • Before you leave review the conference schedule closely and read about the presenters.
  • Establish an objective. What do you want to learn about? Decide what sessions you are interested in attending.
  • Know who you want to network with or get to know when you are there?
  • If you have contacts that may be there it may be good to reach out before the conference gets going if you want to meet up. The conference will go by a lot faster than you think and you may not get the chance.
  • Download the conference app to your mobile device before you leave and spend some time getting to know it.
  • If you are not on Twitter sign up. Even if you don’t plan on continuing after the conference it is still worth it. If you actively participate in the Twitter stream you may just see the value in it and can apply what you learn for future Twitter use after the conference.
  • Follow the back-channel on social media. There are a lot of people blogging about most conferences on personal blogs, official blogs, linkedin groups, Google +. Watch for the conference hash tag on these sites.
  • Get there early first day, don’t be late, sleep in or be rushed. Get up early and have a good breakfast and coffee up if that is what gets you going in the morning.
  • Attend all the keynotes. The keynote speakers are usually great and there are defiantly some ones this year.
  • Don’t sleep…ok just kidding but don’t hide in your hotel room. I know the rooms at the hotel rooms are fantastic and the fuzzy robes are comfy or so I hear, but you need to get out in the evenings. Meet people, go to dinner (there will be dinner group postings at the event), strike up conversations in the bar. Set a goal to meet new people, share, converse, engage and network.
  • Take notes, exchange cards, scan QR codes. If you don’t have a QR code reader and you have a smartphone then download one from the market place.
  • Go to the Expo. See what companies are doing. See how new technologies are emerging to make your job easier.
  • Most of all have fun. Fun is infectious. It makes you interesting and people will want to talk to you.

Looking forward to seeing you at the next conference and please feel free to come up and say hi.

~Jeff

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