Be Prepared & Social at Conferences
by Stephanie Corritori
Attending conferences can be both exciting and stressful at the same time. It all depends on the type of conference you attend, the participants and speakers, the workload that will greet you when you return to the daily grind and, most importantly, how prepared you are.
I have been fortunate enough to attend numerous conferences over the past few years. Some of these conferences are huge and hosted at conferences centers like the Javits Center in NYC, while others are more intimate gatherings at a suburban conference center. I have learned that the key to making the most out of any conference is being overly prepared. Attending a conference is the easy part, it’s the work that you must do prior and post the event that pays the most dividends.
Once you register for any conference, don’t overlook the basics:
- Create a digital or hard copy file that includes your registration confirmation, notes, directions, etc.
- Determine how the conference will benefit you/your company and decide what you want to take away from the conference. Jot this down for future use!
- Review the conference website details for booths, key note speakers and other important information.
- Let people know you are attending a conference through social media. Send out a tweet, post a link to the conference on LinkedIn and tell your Facebook friends. You may also be able to follow the conference Twitter handle, which will provide up-to-date information. I have yet to attend a conference that doesn’t host a website or have a twitter handle.
The days leading up to any conference are crucial. In today’s day and age, there is no excuse for being unprepared. The first step you should take is determining which conference sessions to attend. Then make a list of contacts that should be engaged during the conference. These notes should be added to the conference folder.
Now for the simple steps that everyone forgets…..grab a large stack of business cards, charge your cell phone and tablet (& don’t forget to PACK your charger), bring a notepad and wear comfortable shoes!
On the conference day, have most of your day mapped out surrounding the speaking engagements and networking events. Remember to engage others at the conference. Focus on the reason for attending the conference and use Social Media as much as possible! I have met and stayed connected with many people from conferences via Social Media.
The days following the conference are a time to reflect, review notes and formally connect with those you engaged with during the conference. LinkedIn, Twitter and good old fashion emails or phone calls are a great starting point. The notes that were jotted down prior to the conference should also be reviewed to assess whether your objectives were met.
Although not every conference will meet your expectations, there is always something you can glean away that will ’pay it forward’ in your daily operations, industry relationships and future opportunities. Now get out there and NETWORK!