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How to get the most from a conference - 10 proven tips

Here you are, at the end of a three day conference with a bag of flyers from vendors and handouts from the sessions you attended. When you get home, these papers will go in the "Will get to it one day" pile, along with the remnants of last years conference. In a month from now, you will have forgotten all about the conference and not implemented one idea that you learned from it.

Good conference results starts with good planning. Here are ten proven tips to make the most of a conference.

1. Print the conference agenda before you go. Review the educational sessions on offer and make a preliminary choice of the sessions that you want to attend. I always attend at least one session that I have no knowledge of, in a different area of expertise from my main focus from the conference, because you need to continually broaden your horizons.

2. Decide on your objectives at the conference. Are you looking to deepen your knowledge? Are you looking to network with specific people at the conference? Is this going to be the starting point for long-term relationships and you will follow up with other attendees after the conference? Once your objectives are set, you can plan to reach them at the conference.

3. Think ahead. Imagine going to each session. What will you do with the flyers from sessions, and vendors? Will you keep them in your carry bag or are you going to reduce paper clutter by taking notes on a netbook? Do you have business cards? How will you categorize the business cards that you receive, so that you can remember to follow up with people?

4. Ask prior attendees for tips at the conference. Is there anything that has worked in the past, and not worked in the past? What is the anticipated size of the conference?

5. Prepare to take photos. Who do you want photos with? Who might want a photo with you? Keep you camera handy.

6. Prepare to make updates to social media platforms. Take notes and photos specifically to update your social media platforms (including facebook) during the day, so that your followers can see what you are up to.

7. Find out if there are evening activities planned. Any dinners that you need to attend? Otherwise, plan to use your time after the conference wisely. Are there sightseeing tours that you can take while in a foreign city after the conference?

8. Plan to speak to people that you don't know. Don't hang around people that you know, and know you, at the conference. You learn more by sitting next to people that you don't know at the conference and learning about them.

9. Prepare your "trip report" before you leave your office. If you want to report back to your team on what you learned at the conference, as well as action items to implement after the conference, then start updating the trip report from the start of the conference in the right format. Then, you have your trip report complete when you leave the conference and don't come home with a lot of flyers and handouts that must be compiled into a trip report.

10. Keep your list of ideas and action items that you hear about during the conference in one of these three columns, to help you categorize them and implement after the conference. "Will do next week", "Will do in next year", "Whenever".

Posted on 10/5/2010 by Wayne BothaCategories: Project Management


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