Planning to go to a conference? I hope you would like to get the most out of conferences.
If you’re properly prepared, you’re going to take a lot of things back home.
I have been a part of multiple conferences.
Let’s see how I prepare for any conference.
- Go to the event with a goal
- Better visibility by participation
- Research about the attendees
- Make a schedule of sessions
- Take important things
- Give it Forward
#1 Go to the event with a goal
Why are you attending the event?
Review the agenda clearly to align it with a goal.
- Is it to learn something particular to help your team/clients?
- Is it to network and meeting people?
- Is it to showcase your products and services?
- Is it to update yourself with all the new things of your industry?
- is it just to have dun with like minded people?
Your objective defines the plan. I always keep in mind what I am doing at any conference.
#2 Better visibility by participation
Participate in the conference in some or another way.
Besides audience, you can be a:
- Helping hand
- Session facilitator
- Debate moderator
- Mentor for young people
Be quick to see if there’s an option available or directly reach out to the conference organizer. Once you’re able to grab a visible role, you have set yourself apart from the crowd already.
I always try to find an active role, that could make me a member of the conference team. Learning through experience, as everyone says.
#3 Research about the attendees
Most people think networking begins when you join the conference. This is what sets apart the professionals from rookie networkers.
Professionals use the conference as a date, not an opportunity to set up a date for a later time.
You can start following the members on social media, start interacting with them, learn their hobbies and genuinely make a connection. When you meet them IRL, you will be able to connect instantly, and you will be on a first-name basis quicker than you realize.
I always suggest people read How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book is a networking gem.
Basic things you can do:
- Find their Facebook event page, follow, interact, learn
- Explore Twitter hashtags, and what other people are doing
- Learn about their products and services, and prepare genuinely helpful advice and appreciations
- Interact with as many people as possible, and try to schedule a meeting on specific topics — you will be saving their time and yours too.
The gamechanger is Empathy. You have to be genuinely interested in people.
#4 Make a schedule of sessions
There are going to be a lot of sessions to choose from.
In Web Summit, there were 50+ sessions on a stretch of 3 days going on simultaneously. I had to prioritize as per my objective.
That was mind-boggling!
So before going to the event, look at the sessions and schedule. Pick the right sessions for yourself based on your goal. If the sessions aren’t as you expected, skip out and try a different one.
Use your time wisely and get the most out of the conference.
Note: See if they have an app of the event for better management.
#5 Take important things
Be it a one-day or a 4-day affair, it is always a good idea to take the following things:
1. Don’t forget your chargers
Since you’re going to spend most of the day relying on your devices, you will need chargers for your laptop and smartphones.
Get portable chargers for ease in case there aren’t outlets available.
2. Demo Materials
Since you’ve already done the research and probably scheduled a meeting beforehand, it’s always a good idea to carry your demo materials.
It’s an efficient way to turn your 15-min chit-chat into a real sales opportunity.
3. Business Cards
Keep a lot of business cards since you never know how many people you’re going to meet and want to network with.
4. Install LinkedIn App
Keep the LinkedIn app downloaded on your phone to connect with people you meet.
It’s a good way to get the best out of each interaction. Send the connection request on the fly!
5. Take pictures
A picture says a thousand words (AND gives easy social media content).
Take pictures with people you meet and tag them. It increases their chances of sharing the pictures.
Don’t let those talks go to waste. There’s so much to do after the conference gets over.
Send a personal follow-up to everyone you met and let them know how much you enjoyed meeting them.
My team use emails like this:
Hi First Name, It was great meeting you at Name of Event. I remember you mentioning that you’re having difficulties with your website speed. I thought I would share a case study of how we managed to speed up the website speed and increased the conversion by 150%. It’s called Name of Book and I just sent you the PDF version of it. Hope you like it! Happy to discuss our approach with you. Just let me know! Signature
You can send them emails, and strengthen your bond. They do not need to be turned into your customers.
Having a network is itself a win.
#7 Give it Forward
Whatever new information, contacts, and inspiration you have gathered at the conference, pay it forward.
This is one of the best ways of getting the most out of the conferences.
Share them with your fellow co-workers, friends, colleagues, or could even write a blog – just like this one!
Once you spread your knowledge and skills, people will not make the mistakes you’ve made.
Dos and Dont’s of Conferences
- Wear nice formal clothes (or follow the dress convention of the conference)
- Listen more; talk less. When you talk, you’re only repeating what you know but when you listen, there’s a lot of new things you may learn.
- Take notes of important things (record or write)
- Do say “Hello” and introduce yourself. Don’t wait for others to come to you.
- Use conference hashtags and post the golden words first.
- Don’t sit with the same people you always do. Remember conference is an opportunity to connect with different people.
- Don’t go with “Look I’m so great” attitude. Rather help people with your ideas and knowledge.
- In the middle of netwroking, please don’t forget to enjoy.
Wrapping it up
Before you leave the conference, write all the actionable things you wish to implement.
Don’t think – ‘I will remember this’. The moment you say, I will do it in the morning, you are already lost.
Try to summarise everything you did, talked, listened, learned, and create notes. This is always helpful during follow-ups.
Got more tips? Let me know in the comment section below! 🙂