There is no better place to increase your awareness of new trends in your field than an industry conference. Some people use industry conferences as an opportunity to expand their existing network. These new connections can turbocharge your career and the presentations and seminars can teach you things you can’t pick up elsewhere.
But with so many speakers to hear and so many panels to attend, conferences may seem a little overwhelming. This sentiment rings especially true for those who are new to the professional conference scene.
If that describes you, here are 5 ways to get the most out of a conference.
- Have a goal
What are you hoping to learn from this conference? Determine what you hope to gain from the conference before you get there. Going to a conference without any goals can be a waste of time and money. Your goals don’t have to be very specific. They can be as simple as meeting new people, gaining awareness about a particular topic, or to better yourself and bring new knowledge back to your team. If there is a particular person you’d like to meet, carve out time to accomplish that goal. If that person is a speaker or a presenter, send an email prior to the event and introduce yourself. Let the person know that you’re coming to his/her session and that you’re eager to meet them. Whenever possible, let them know how you can help them; they may be more inclined to spend some extra time talking with you!
- Find out who the speakers are
Before you make the decision to go, we recommend that you determine who the speakers are. Then, do some research on Youtube or Google and watch their videos online. By doing so, you’ll get a sense for their style and substance. Plus, it will give you an idea how much value they’ll bring to their upcoming presentations. This is also a great opportunity to think of questions you may want to ask during or after their presentation.
- Register early
We get it. You decided to attend the conference to gain new ideas or insights about your industry. However, the most interesting moments often occur in between or after the sessions themselves. The conversations and interactions you have with the other attendees are often the most memorable and valuable you will have at a conference. On the day of the conference, make sure you register early. This allows you to maximize your time meeting new people before the sessions begin.
- Take notes
With days full of speakers and sessions, it can be difficult to remember everything you have learned during the conference. To help you remember what you have learned, we recommend that you take down notes. Also, don’t forget to write down 3 key takeaways at the end of each session.
- Follow up
Make sure you follow up with everyone you met after the event. Reach out to them. Email is a completely reasonable way to follow up with someone. Don’t wait too long, either: you’ll want to make sure they still remember you while the event is still fresh in their mind! It’s important to keep those contacts handy, even if you don’t work together immediately.