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How To Ensure You Make The Most Of Each Conference You Attend

26 Jul

Plone Conference 2009 Group PhotoHow To Ensure You Make The Most Of Each Conference You Attend

Whether you have been asked to attend a conference by your boss, or you are attending one, or more, off your own back, it is important to make sure your time is not wasted. The following tips will make sure you always make the most of the conferences you attend.

1. Make a plan before you go

One of the worst things you can do when attending a conference is to not have a plan. Conferences tend to be extremely hectic and busy and if you arrive having not looked at the conference layout, looked up the guest speakers or checked the delegate list, you will not go far.

You should make a plan about which speakers you want to see, which delegates you want to meet, which stands you want to visit and so on. If you have been given the delegate list, try and get in contact with the people you’d like to meet and make an appointment with them, perhaps arranging to meet them for a coffee during one of the breaks in the conference speeches.

2. Do your research on those attending

If you’ve been lucky enough to get a delegate list and know who you want to meet, as well as knowing who the guest speakers are going to be, make sure you do your research on them all. Look them up online, read their twitter posts, visit their blogs and so on.

It will be a lot easier for you to make contact with these people at the conference if you have a way in and can show you’re interested in them. They will feel flattered you have done your research on them and are much more likely to give you the time of day.

3. Make sure you interact with the people around you

There’s nothing worse at a conference than being sat next to someone who is totally ignoring you, even more so when they are quite obviously alone there too. It’s a good idea to make the most of the opportunity to meet new people, after all you never know who you might be talking to and if they might be able to offer you a viable business opportunity, or even a personal one.

Try to start conversations by arriving before speeches are due to start and asking people about why they are attending the conference. It’s always a good idea to ask them a lot of questions because, to be honest, people just love to talk about themselves. It will also help you break the ice and encourage other people, who are also there alone, to join in the conversation.

4. Don’t spend all your free time on your phone or other mobile device

As in point 3, it is terribly rude to sit next to someone throughout an entire guest speech, or to keep bumping into the same people throughout the conference and then ignore them during the breaks because you’re texting, calling or tweeting.

You should be using the free time between speeches and presentations to meet and greet others in order to advertise your business, discover new work opportunities or to generally just have a nice conversation with other people.

5. Always make sure you follow up with those you’ve met

This is incredibly important, firstly because it is just polite to do so and secondly because it is likely people at the conference have met so many people that they will forget who you are unless you remind them quickly. This is especially important if you feel they can help your business in any way. Just think how impressed your boss might be with you if you bring in some new business.

There are a number of ways in which you are able to follow up such conference leads, whether through writing them an actual letter, sending them an email or even getting in touch with them via the phone. Just make sure you follow up within 48 hours, that you have got their details correct and that you tell them just how much you enjoyed meeting them and how much you would like to follow up on the discussions you had at the conference whenever they have the time to do so.

Featured images:
  •  License: Image author owned

James writes for Cranfield Tech Park. When not blogging about Cranfield’s serviced offices in Milton Keynes, he can often be found discovering new ways to attend conferences.

 

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