The conference season has started and I don’t know about you but I am excited about it. I have always loved the idea of going to a conference connecting with old friends, meeting new people, learning new things at programs, and the chance to get involved in an organization.
As you get ready for the conference you are attending, there are a few steps you can take to get the most out of your conference experience. Hopefully there is a tip below that you have not thought of before.
In his bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, authorSteven Covey says, “Start with the end in mind.” So to get the most out of your conference experience you should be asking yourself the following:
- Why are you attending this conference?
- What do you hope to gain from your attendance or experience?
- What are your goals? You are attending this conference for a reason.
- What can you give to help those you are attending with or the organization? Have you been to this conference before and can connect other people?
- Have you picked out programs you want to attend?
- Are there other conference attendees that you know and want to reconnect with?
- Is there someone new you might want to meet? The keynote speaker or other well-known members of your field?
This sounds easy enough but spend a few minutes reflecting on these questions and putting your answers on paper. It will give you clarity during your days at the conference.
One of the purposes of getting together at a professional conference is to meet new people and make new friends from other institutions. For some people this may be hard to do but I challenge you to go outside your comfort zone. Introduce yourself to everyone by name. Say hello and goodbye. Ask others about themselves and get to know a little about them. If you have them, bring business cards to give out to those you meet. Create those connections with others at the conference because you never know what it might lead to.
Come prepared to the conference and to each session. Check the conference website again to make sure you have everything needed for your trip and the conference. Ensure you have the correct attire, if you are presenting – your materials are ready to go. Revisit the schedule again and figure out what programming session you want to attend. And don’t forget to set up a time to debrief and reflect on the conference after it is over.
What’s your best tip for a great conference experience?