Attending an industry conference requires a significant investment of time and money. And in today’s corporate fiscal environment, it is critical that attendees make the most of the investment.  If you’re attending an event, here are five tips to ensure that you do so.

  1. Do your homework – whether you have personally petitioned to go to the event, and your manager is sending you, or you are footing the bill yourself, you need to do your homework. Set aside time to evaluate the educational sessions, keynote speakers, social gatherings, exhibitors, and event attendees. And while you’re reviewing this content, make sure you earmark items that are of interest and worthy of your time.
  2. Pack your toothbrush and your problems – before you pack your actual bag, make sure you’ve thought through the problems that you want to take with you. More specifically, spend time reflecting and get buy-in from your manager or team about the business problems you want to find solutions to, whether it’s through a session or speaking to vendors on the trade show floor. It’s also important to pack some conference essentials like business cards, pens, notebooks, work samples, company collateral, and the proper clothes.
  3. Be a social butterfly and fly with purpose – if you don’t plan accordingly, the convergence of information, options, and people can overwhelm even the most seasoned professional. It’s important to plan out your every move by using the published event resources like the website, app, or conference calendar. Make sure you physically write down or highlight the sessions you want to attend, the people you want to meet, and the products/services you want to research.
  4. Disconnect and be present – do your best before the event to ensure that your work at the office is handled accordingly so that you can disconnect and be present at the event. This requires planning, effort, and will power. A simple step to being present is to only check your company email in the morning or evening while you’re not physically at the conference. Before you leave ask your colleagues, clients, or partners to call or text with items that need your immediate attention so you can have peace of mind about not watching your email.
  5. Take notes and action – be sure that you take note of every nugget of information and interaction of value and then create a plan of action. It is critical that you decide how to leverage your learnings or experiences. Your notes should consist of personal shifts that you want to make in your daily behavior, meetings to schedule, follow up notes to new connections, opportunities you want to pursue, and more. Lastly, it is important that you prepare a concise conference report for your team or manager that showcases the value of your time at the conference.

While conferences can be a hefty investment, they are a great resource and present an opportunity to meet new people and grow within your industry, company and career. These tips are a sure fire way to get the most out of your experience.

Brady McFadden
Vice President, Account Services