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5 Things You Should Do to Make the Most Out of a Conference

by Ryan on April 1, 2015

Previous to my job with Schneider Geospatial, my job included attending conferences occasionally.  I used to get so excited to get out of the office and always looked forward to the networking opportunities and seeing what the latest buzz was within my industry.  I used to always think I was a great employee to my respective company by attending courses, seminars, and walking through the trade show area to chat with businesses within the field.  All of this being said, I now have a different viewpoint what makes a successful conference experience being on the consulting side of the business.

The following is a list of 5 things that every attendee should mark on their checklist to make for an effective experience.

1.Review the Conference Brochure

Yes, I know you are excited because you just checked in to the conference and want to just walk around and find people.  There is always time to do that.  Take the time and find a quiet spot in the hotel lobby area to read through the brochure.  I am in no way saying you have to read it cover-to-cover, but have a pen with you and make a couple notes on seminars that may interest you.  This will come in handy when you not sure which seminar to attend at the time.  Also, glance over the schedule of events and identify a period of time to relax or just rest.  If you go straight through and do everything at the conference, you can find yourself getting burned out by Day 2 or 3.

2.Stay out of the Hotel Room

The hotel room is for changing clothes and sleeping, nothing else.  If you ever need some quiet time, find a place in the hotel lobby area.  It is difficult to network with your peers if you are too busy watching a Property Brothers marathon on HGTV (I’ve been there).  Lately, a new trend I have seen is more conferences are offering trivia night, or some type of nightly activity to keep you busy.

3.Talk to your Vendors

Believe or not, Vendors are not just there to giveaway free pens.  Your business partners do want to talk to you, and that does not mean they always want to sell something to you.  Chatting with the vendors is a great way to learn about what is new with current products and also is a great opportunity to chat with a company representative for an extended period of time.

4.Attend the Seminars

This is your opportunity to learn!  Many seminars feature speakers that the experts in their field.  I have seen speakers range from Department of Revenue, USGS, Governors of States, or even Motivational Speakers.  As a vendor, I try to attend seminars also so that I know what my clients may have questions about or if anything in the industry will require new regulation or changes.  That being said, as a conference attendee, during a seminar session is also an excellent opportunity to sneak out for a few minutes if you need to have a detailed conversation with one of your organization’s business partners
5.Write a Conference Review

The last item, may be the toughest to follow through on, but usually has the greatest value long term.  Depending on if you bring your computer with you or not, you should type up a conference review and email it to your superiors.  This has 2 benefits: By retyping your thoughts about the conference, you tend to recall more information.  Second, your superiors always like to know they are making a good investment when sending you to a conference.  By typing a quick review, it is more likely you will get to attend in future years.