Attending professional conferences can be overwhelming if you don’t take the time to plan your conference experience beforehand. Before you head out the door and jump on that plane, prepare with these tips:
(1) Never stop taking notes
Take notes during panels. Take notes on the business cards you collect. The sheer amount of information that you will be taking in is simply too much to process and remember.
At the end of each day, take 15 minutes to organize your notes and clarify anything that might be confusing. This allows you to compile the information gleaned during your conference into a single, cohesive document, rather than a mass of business cards and notes scribbled in margins.
Further, take the time to make a running to-do list inspired by your convention experience. This will help you keep the momentum going when you finally head home.
(2) Ask those who have gone before
If this is your first time at a professional conference, connect with veteran attendees on online. Search for the conference’s hashtag and engaged in conversation with other attendees. Find the Facebook page to connect with others who will be there. Ask questions about what to expect. Engage with colleagues who have attended in the past.
(3) Don’t be shy
Introduce yourself to strangers. Strike up conversations with people in elevators or in between sessions. Everyone is there to network and build their contacts, so don’t be afraid to approach new people.
(4) Schedule breaks
It’s tempting to pack your schedule to “get the most” out of your convention experience, but it’s important to have downtime to process information and keep your mind and body sharp. If you’re not at the top of your game, you’re missing out.
(5) Wear comfortable shoes
This one may seem silly, but many conference-goers have had their experience sullied by their shoes. The days are long and, if you’re wearing uncomfortable shoes, you’ll regret it. There’s nothing worse than not being able to concentrate on what someone’s saying because all you can focus on is how much your feet hurt!