Ready or not, conference season is just about here! But don’t panic. No matter how big the conference you’re attending is, we’ve got a guide to help you get through it. Behold, your 2016 conference survival guide!
Before the conference…
- Create a plan of attack - Most conferences will post the final schedule a month or two in advance. Take a good look at it and determine what sessions you’d like to attend.
- Leverage social media - Before heading off to your next event, see what’s taking place online. Check out the organization’s Facebook page and/or LinkedIn. Then, head on over to Twitter and check out the event’s hashtag (if there is one).
- Prepare your materials - First and foremost, be sure to pack plenty of business cards. Conferences are all about networking, so make sure you have enough business cards to go around. In addition, make sure to pack plenty of note-taking materials. Pens, paper, your iPad, a charger - it’s always better to be over-prepared.
At the conference…
- Pay attention to social media - Now you don’t have to post (although active participation is always better!), but you should at least follow other attendees on social media (particularly Twitter) and keep up with the conference hashtag.
- Leverage the mobile app (if there is one) - This all depends on if the conference you’re attending has a mobile app, but if they do, we highly recommend using it. Conference apps are great for navigating the venue, scheduling your sessions, and socializing with others.
- Network, network, network - It can be intimidating to approach people you don’t know, but really, that’s what conferences and networking are all about. If approaching one person seems too hard, try approaching a small group of people and joining in on their existing conversation.
After the conference…
- Connect with other attendees on social media - Don’t let all that networking you did go to waste. Connect with other attendees on social media and stay in touch with them over time. A good rule of thumb is to follow up with people within 72 hours of attending an event.
- Type up your notes - You probably spent a lot of time taking notes, so don’t let them get lost in the post-conference shuffle. Type them up and save them in a place you’ll be able to access later.
- Apply what you learned - This is where the real value of a conference comes into play. Sit down with your coworkers after the event and discuss which tactics your association can adopt over time. Be sure to discuss both short and long-term goals.
Now this is really just an overview of how to prepare for a conference. For more tips and tricks, check out our complete 2016 Conference Survival Guide below!