Some call conferences a great opportunity to network and learn while others call it a waste of time. Why is there such a gap? The only difference is preparing for it. If you’re prepared, you’re going to take a lot of things back home.

Based on my experience and having seen quite a few conferences by now – from big (Web Summit, Rise Conference) to small ones (Plesk Partner Day), here’s a guide to get the most out of a conference:

Before Conference

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 to network? Is it to showcase your products and services?

Pick a goal and devise a plan accordingly.

2. Better visibility by participation

An Ultimate Guide: How to Get the Most Out of Conferences

Participate in the conference in some or the other way. Become a presenter, committee volunteer, or session facilitator. 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.

3. Research about the attendees

Most people neglect this point but it is a good time to network with people of your industry, find new prospects and learn your customer personas. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Find their Facebook event page
  • Explore Twitter hashtags
  • Reach out to them before the conference to schedule a meeting on some specific topics. This way you’ll have their full attention instead of a random here and there chat.

During Conference

4. Make a schedule of sessions

Since 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. 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:

I. 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.

II. 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.

III. 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.

IV. Install LinkedIn App

Have 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!

6. 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.

After Conference

7. Follow-up

Don’t let those talks go 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.

8. 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.

Do’s

  • Wear nice formal clothes.
  • 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.
  • 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’ts

  • 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.

Wrapping it up 

Before you leave the conference, write all the actionable things you wish to implement. Got more tips? Let us know in the comment section below!

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