Get The Most out Of a Conference

Like many of you, I have attended many conferences over the years.

Recently, I attended the National Writer’s Conference. It was a fantastically empowering conference that left me running on fumes because I didn’t prepare.

Conferences can be a wonderful enrichment experience, but they can also leave you feeling drained.

Here are my top ten tips to help you get the most out of a writing or business conference.

1. Focus on the purpose of attending the conference: Why do you want to attend? What do you hope to achieve at the event? Who do you need to associate with? What industry links do you want to know more about? Know the answer to those questions before attending.

2. Arrive early: I recently attended a Writer’s conference. Each day I arrived early and was able to beat the crowds and familiarize myself with the set up and that day’s events. This included the program for that day, bathroom and food locations, and expo booths that I wanted to attend.

3. Get the agenda ahead of time: Most conferences put their agenda online, and if not contact the organizers for an event schedule ahead of time because doing so allows you to map out what you plan to do.

4. Reach out to people ahead of time: If you have people you want to get in contact with that will be attending the conference, either people you want to network with, relations, friends, etc., try to reach out to them few weeks before the conference to set up a time

5. Put Away Smartphone and other devices: Forget about “I might have so many awaiting emails to attend to” because here’s the thing: You’re in a conference to have in-person communication, and you don’t want your phones or tablets to be a barrier to making those connections. So while you don’t have to go offline completely, put the smart phone away when you’re waiting for a workshop to begin or taking a break at a food stand, and give yourself a chance to strike up conversations with the other attendees around you.

6. Bring snacks. It’s perfectly fine to support food vendors at a conference, but those lines are usually very long and especially during lunch times. Bring your snack to give you energy to shop at non-food vendors when the crowds aren’t usually “thick” and you have the best opportunity to check out what’s offered.

7. Don’t be greedy and pass up some of the “freebies” that come in the goodie bag: Freebies are there are usually an abundance of them offered at a conference. But sometimes to get the most out of a conference, you have to pass up the freebies. Do you really need another sample or trinket you can’t use, or would you better benefit from a workshop or hearing the keynote speaker.

8. Don’t be left behind: What good is attending a conference if you don’t follow up? Collect social media info (or cards) from people and stay in touch with people with whom you can network.

9. Take notes: With days full of speakers and sessions, there’s a lot to take-in and you’re probably not going to recall all of it at the end of the day. Here is what to do. Take your notes and collect some vital information that will enable you recall the day’s event when you get home. Regardless of the medium you wish to take the notes during and after the conference, this will help refresh your memory and give you specific to-do when you get back.

10. Claim fulfillment in advance: Whatever you want to get out of the conference you will and you should claim it in advance. I, (your name goes here) will (declare the results here).

In conclusion, pace yourself, because attending conferences can be exhausting. Most schedules are packed with keynote speakers, networking events, expos and more.

What is the next conference that you plan to attend, and how will you make the most of it?

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