Since we’re in Summer conference season, we thought we’d pass this much ignored conference tip along. Yes, it’s important to wear comfortable shoes and yes, knowing what your goal is (meeting new people, networking, learning, etc.) shape your experience but the single most important tip in making the most of conferences is…
Do Your Homework.
As a child I longed for the days when I would become an adult and I could be rid of homework. Sadly as most of us know, you’re never rid of homework. Whether it’s domestic chores or after-hours social media, there is always more to do. Conference homework will help you make the most of this valuable experience. As soon as you have committed to attending, take a look at the agenda. Who are the speakers and session leaders? Have they published books? Do they blog? What’s their claim to fame? Find out and research their works. You’ll be able to speak much more intelligently to the speaker should you run into one another, and also at session and with your peers throughout the conference.
Next track down an attendees list. Who’s going? Who have you been dying to meet? Are there social media friends you want to meet in person or have you been following someone and you’d like to make an in-person connection? Make a list of your three most desired connections. Do your research on them if you don’t already know them. What are their hobbies and skills? Think about possible conversations topics that will hold their interest. Figure out what you have in common.
Update all of your social media profiles with recent pictures. Yes, your dog is really cute but she won’t help people recognize you at an event. A recent picture is essential to putting a social media profile to a face.
Do these bits of homework before your conference and you’ll make the most of your experience.