Are you headed to a conference? Do you know how to effectively spend your time during this professional development opportunity? Make any conference worthwhile with a game plan to keep you focused and organized. Follow these six tips to have a successful conference experience.
- Plan early. Take advantage of early discounts. Save money on conference fees with early registration. Early travel planning can reduce costs for flights and hotel accommodations.
- Review the conference schedule. Get an overview of activities, map out must-attend sessions, note speakers you want to connect with, and highlight any free time for networking and exploring the city. Identify your goals for the conference. Be prepared.
- Highlight action items. Chances are you will take many notes during sessions. But when you hear ideas, tips, and practical steps that resonate, don’t bury the information. Make life easier by focusing on action items you plan to try later after the conference. There are meeting notebooks that include an action section to make note-taking easier. Or create your own.
- Network. A conference gathers like-minded attendees and experts that you may not otherwise meet. Take advantage of the opportunities before and after sessions to talk and exchange business cards and connect on LinkedIn. Make it a goal not to eat alone. Meet new contacts for breakfast, dinner, or drinks. If you are shy, make it a goal to connect with at least five new people.
- Relax and have fun. Find time to sightsee or at least get out of the hotel for a walk. Better yet, invite a new contact to accompany you. Some of the best conference experiences occur during the “downtime.”
- Review and Execute. Remember all those great takeaways you heard during the various presentations? Once home, take time to review conference materials and for nuggets of wisdom and action steps. What did you learn professionally or personally? Who did you meet? Now is the time to follow up.
Conferences provide insight, energy, and contacts to take your career to a new level. Take the time to maximize the opportunities that you will find at conferences by arriving with goals and a plan.
Robin Farmer is a freelance journalist with a focus on health, education and business. Visit her at www.RobinFarmerWrites.com