I just read the Quirks conference tips and thought it was helpful for ideas when attending a conference. But what about before you go? As all those email invites hit our inbox each month, how do you decide which one(s) you should attend?
Remember you can attend conferences for many reasons: learning more about current priorities, identifying new methods and opportunities that directly relate and can be incorporated into your current or next, understanding the big picture (trends/strategy/industry changes), sharing your own problems and solutions, and networking. There are some awesome conferences out there that can fulfill these needs!
First check out the conference topic, timing, location, and last but certainly not least, the cost! That’s a given, but if it’s a 1 day conference located across the country, it may rarely be worth your time unless you can combine it with other travel needs (though January conferences in Florida rarely lack for attendees from the snowy states!). Group conference options into quarters and take into account what your focus and priorities may be during that time.
Next, review the schedule to make sure the conference title matches the content. And note the speakers. Are they your current peers or clients? Have you heard them before? Is there enough content that you can learn new information? Do the topics excite you and will they help you take action when you return to the real world?
Last, ASK…your colleagues, clients, LinkedIn network, etc. Who has been? Was it worthwhile? What was lacking? What worked?
Once you decide to attend, prepare a bit ahead of time and think about how you’ll spend each day and which key speakers you don’t want to miss. The importance of getting to an attention-grabbing session early is so true, as many popular speakers are beyond SRO and have crowds spilling out the door. Take notes that might interest your colleagues and share them when you return, ideally with ideas for actionable next steps.
Enjoy the camaraderie and fun of a conference but remember, your time is valuable – make it work for you! And if you can’t make a great event, find someone you trust who can attend and share important details with you afterwards!