I LOVE conferences. For real. I get some sort of weird rush that makes me super hyped and ultra talkative, ready to meet people and network. Basically I’m like a kid in a candy store, except it is learning, and maybe some free candy at the booths…
Top 5 things to do at the next conference you attend:
- If you are looking to save money, volunteer. Most conferences will allow a certain number of volunteers to help and attend the conference for free. Depending which conference you’re at, that could mean free snacks and lunches as well!
- Go to everything you signed up for. This should be a no-brainer, but I’ve noticed many people skip out on sessions because they get tired or think it may be uninteresting-go anyway. At the very least, maybe you can get in a little nap if it really is that boring.
- Schedule in some down time to reflect. Conferences can be a “fire hose drinking fountain” full of useful information and new ideas, but it will never be of any use to you unless you take the time to review, think through it, and plan how you will implement it. This can be so hard when there is a sea of people rushing out the doors for the bathroom or coffee stands, so I suggest scoping out a few spots beforehand so you know where to go for some peace and quiet.
- Get free stuff! Sign up at all the booths and have conversations with all of the ones you might even potentially be interested in. This is great practice for networking and will be a skill you can develop through events like these. Conferences are breeding grounds for giveaways, free trinkets and resources that may or may not be of great use–get it anyway (these free things also make great last minute gifts for family members who expect something upon your return).
a). If you enter with a paper slip, a helpful tip I’ve gleaned from a wise soul is to crumple, fold, or tear the paper in an interesting way, so that when the person drawing goes in to reach for one, they will pick the odd one. (maybe people know about this trick and do the opposite, but it’s still worth a shot!)
- Set small goals or intentions for the day! I would hope you don’t choose to attend a conference on something that doesn’t interest you, but if so, find the interesting, the good or the potentially good. This is a good practice not only for conferences but also for every day life (I’ll let you know when I actually do it daily, but it absolutely works at the conference). Set small goals for each day like: today I am going to meet and talk with at least 3 new people, OR today, I am going to take amazing notes and reflect during the coffee break in my secret spot (that I scoped out earlier).
Ultimately, enjoy your time, and don’t stress about writing it all down or remembering everything. Often, the really important quotes you can find on twitter anyways