Educating Yourself At EventsFinding ways to better your business, improve your health, gain financially, seek out that missing element in your life...
These are just a few of topics that conferences/events/seminars are about. Choosing to attend is choosing to educate yourself further and learn more about the topic. For the past several years, I have spent a lot of my free time at events/seminars/conferences/tweetups/fundraisers in one capacity or another. I have been a co-host, an organizer, a volunteer, and an attendee at more events than I can possibly remember.
I have learned about business, financial planning, social strategies, health awareness, meal planning and so many other subjects that keep me inspired and spark new ideas. Many of these events do involve a time investment so to ensure you fully partake in the conference experience, here are some tips so you are properly prepared and can make the most of your time at the conference.
An Event Addict's Guide To Conferences
Find An Event
- Use online sites like Eventbrite, Meetup, Facebook Events, or local events pages to find out about great conferences
- Check the hashtags that people are using and see the info about the events they are talking about (also follow attendees of the event so you can engage with them beforehand and look forward to meeting them face to face at the event)
- Find out about discount codes, or Early Bird pricing to save some dollars
What To Bring
- Most will bring their electronic devices, smartphones, tablets, cameras etc. but remember to bring chargers and batteries so you are able to use them
- A note pad & pen are also a great idea incase of WiFi issues, you can still keep a record of what you want to remember
- Clothing that you will be comfortable in. You never know if the breaks are in the same rooms as the speakers, or if you'll be walking a few blocks to after-parties or if the air conditioning will be on full blast. Dressing in layers and comfortable footwear will make a big difference
- Research about the area you are attending. Find out what the destination has to offer
- Pack light! Chances are you'll be bringing more home than what you arrived with
- Modes of transportation. How will you get there? Will you need to commute to several places once you arrive?
- If driving, ensure you GOOGLE MAPS the location (you never know when that GPS signal will be lost), factor in traffic into travel times and bring cash for parking
- Find a travel companion. Whether it be a carpool or a bus load, find someone you can share the experience with on the way to and back from the event.
At the Conference
- Find the registration desk ASAP. Once you are registered you have the freedom to roam
- Grab your seat. As tempting as the coffee bar might be as you arrive, pick you spot first. Leave something there to hold it (even just writing your name on a paper & placing it on the seat works).
- Look for the agenda. Make sure you know where you need to be and when you need to be there.
- Take lots of notes. You will absorb a lot of info in a short period of time. Having the info in print will give your brain a break
- Meet lots of new people. Fellow attendees share a common interest with you, they have become your peers.
After the Event
- Tell people about your experience. Write a post, send a tweet, create a vlog about the conference. Do it while it is still fresh in your mind
- Connect with those you met. Send a follow-up email from the business card they gave you.
- Implement what you have learned. You took all those notes, put them to good use rather than filing them away.
- Engage with the people that made the most impact. Join their facebook page, subscribe to their newsletter, let them know that what they spoke about inspired you.
You can learn lots at conferences and events, but remember to socialize and have fun too. You never know where it will lead. I've hugged Mike Holmes, held the Oscar for Best Picture, met a ton of authors, and danced on stage with Jordon Knight because I stayed after the event to socialize.
Tips From the Social-sphere
- Time to network. Best work happens in down time. @karynclimans
- Candy at each table is a must!! @vaughanmomshow
- Take contacts and information home that will help you and/or your biz @vaughanmomshow
- Don't live tweet, sit strategically, know who controls the drink tickets, relationships are built after hours. @MattScobel
- Find opportunities to stay connected after the event @woodbridgem2m
- You will learn something and imagine a new framework. @CheMarvilleReal
- Be fearless about reaching out to people, chatting and being authentic! You will be shocked who you can meet! @CheMavilleReal
- Know that you're not the only one nervous about meeting people. Chances are others feel the same. @AppHipMom
- Two sided laynards so everyone can see even if it flips over @MumsnChums
- Plan your sessions in advance, at least two per timeslot. Carry a paper list of session names and room numbers so if you decide to bail on one, you know exactly where to run to, even if your electronics are out of battery and there's no wifi. @TheBrianBanks
- Go with a positive attitude, an open mind & a smile on your face to meet lots of people. That's where the real value is for me.. connecting. @Gemini_Momma
- Even though I missed a panel, best thing I did at Blissdom was listen to my body and take a nap @JackiYo
Do you agree? Perhaps you have a great conference tip you want to add as well? Have you been to an exceptional conference/event/fundraiser/meetup/convention/summit? Make sure to share it in the comments! Looking for a conference to attend this fall? I may be biased, but I would make sure to grab a ticket for the 140 Characters Conference 2012 before they are gone! http://140confont2012-eorg.eventbrite.com/