Attending conferences is important for professionals in every industry. It’s a great way to dive in and hear about new technologies, tricks of the trade, and more. However, because conferences are jam packed with learning and networking for 1 to 3 days, it’s important to make a game plan so you can have a successful experience.
Here are some helpful tips to leave your next conference with an implementation plan.
Prepare for note taking and networking
Some attendees go to trade shows for one or the other, but really everyone should be soaking in the new information and getting to know their peers.
Prepare for note taking by bringing the tools that work best for you. That could be pen and paper, a laptop or a tablet. Taking notes helps improve attention to detail, promotes active learning, boosts comprehension, improves organization and increases creativity. This is all necessary when you’re on a learning spree attending back-to-back sessions.
Next is networking – something many people cringe at. But networking can be easy if you do it in the best way that works for you, and sometimes one conversation can help you solve a business problem you’ve been stuck on. Different networking methods include talking with attendees while you’re sitting waiting for a session to begin, attending networking events, or sitting with peers at lunch. Make sure to bring your business cards with you, and make a networking goal. It could be to swap cards with 4 peers, or to find a solution to a business issue.
Pick three topics to take away
Learning this much in such a short time frame can be overwhelming. Your best bet is to look at the conference agenda a couple of days before, and start picking each session you want to attend for each time slot. Some conferences actually require this because sessions book up so quickly.
Attend the sessions you feel you will get the most out of. Your choices should be a mix of new topics to learn, challenging topics for skills you may need to strengthen, and topics you may be knowledgeable on but want to make sure nothing has changed.
As you complete your schedule there will be sessions that stand out to you as important. Pick three learnings that you want to take away and implement when you get back to work. This will ensure you get your money’s worth, and expand your skills by putting your new learnings to the test.
Speak to vendors
It’s important to spend some time walking through the exhibit area. You may come into the experience thinking you don’t need anything new at your business, or that what you need doesn’t exist. But vendors at conferences vary from marketing communications softwares to banks offering small business loans, and it’s important to know what new technologies and products are out there. Stay up-to-date with solutions in your industry so you’re in full control of the possibilities for your small business. You may even be able to offer a suggestion to a peer when they are in need of a solution.
The most important thing is to be open. Immerse yourself into the conference experience and you’ll be surprised how much you can take away from it!