Attending a conference should be about “surviving” the experience and thriving while doing so. If you’ve attended many conferences you know that the early breakfast and networking events are followed by days packed with learning sessions and in some cases, more networking takes place after the conference ends in the local bars and restaurants. Whether you’re a seasoned conference attendee or whether this is your first trip to the Women In The Pet Industry Network conference, there are myriad things to consider.
Conference Survival (and Thrive) Tips
Here are my tips on ways to survive and thrive at the next conference you attend:
- Take business cards. If you can put your photo on a business card, great; this assures once the conference is over people you’ve met will remember you because they will be able to put a face with a name.
- Smile. Look approachable and you will become approachable. For many of us introverts and ambiverts, attending a conference can be overwhelming. Remember, the people you meet may be nervous as well. Smile, walk up, introduce yourself and ask a leading question. You just might make a new friend or colleague.
- Plan. Know what sessions you want to attend. Check the program. Read the speaker bios.
- Make a list. If the conference you’re attending is hosting a pre-conference online group, network there. Get to know people beforehand. Make a list of who you want to meet and connect with. Don’t leave everything to chance.
- Bring paper. I find it odd that I have to say this, but I have seen conference attendees come with no paper upon which to take notes. Using your computer or tablet is a great place to take notes as well, so regardless of which method you prefer, be prepared.
- Network. You’re at a conference that you’ve likely spent a chunk of change on attending, paying for your room and your travel arrangements. You need to get a return on your investment, right? Spend as much time in the event rooms, networking and talking to people as you can. You can rest up when you get home!
- Plan downtime. Even though I just said to attend events and mix and mingle, you still need to get some downtime to process what you’re learning and who you’ve met. Plan to explore the city in which the conference is being held. There is nothing worse than heading to a city you’ve never been in before and heading home without having seen anything but the inside of your hotel.
- Bring snacks and a sweater. Your meals may be hit and miss. The temperature in the conference rooms typically range from sweltering to below freezing. Bring a sweater and dress in layers.
- Follow up. Don’t let your new friendships or potential business connections go cold. Follow up after you get home from the conference. Keep in touch with your newly made friends.
The best tip I can offer for your WIPIN conference attendance? Have fun!
Robbi Hess, blogs at AllWordsMatter.com. She is an award winning author, is #TheOrganizedWriter, edits the Women In The Pet Industry business magazine and works with clients to help them craft and share their business stories. Reach her at Robbi AT WomenInThePetIndustry DOT com.