Almost everyone I know enjoys attending conferences. Some for the fun, some for the learning. Your guaranteed to get more out of every conference you attend with 3 simple steps. If your sponsoring, I’ve got 4 steps for you too.
Before anyone asks “So what did you get out of the event?” we will have the answer for them. And they will wonder why you look so refreshed.
Some of the Hostek team is packing up this week preparing to travel to Minneapolis for the devObjective() 2015 conference. We have sponsored several years previously. The team with Best Meetings does a fantastic job of preparing everything for sponsors, speakers and attendees.
I remember one of the first conferences I attended. The excitement of being in a place with other people eager to learn was electric. It’s a great feeling, and you can use the excitement to your advantage. Get in the habit of preparing ahead to get the most out of every conference.
Three ways to maximize your time as an attendee
1. Before you go, spy out what’s happening. Download the agenda. Read the profiles of each speaker and ask yourself what makes them a good candidate to contribute to what you want to learn. I’ve sat through countless sessions that had an awesome title but content was blah. Note which ones you’ll attend so you don’t have to think about it.
2. Sit in the middle, be early & take notes. I hate walking into a session that’s full and having to sit near the back. Some people like sitting near the back and that’s good but if I’m sitting near the middle it’s harder for me to daydream and I stay more engaged. Taking notes will give you something to review and remember what you learned.
3. Get rest. No that’s not a joke. It’s fun to go out after the conference, it’s going to happen, but if you get rested you’ll get more out of the time you’re there hands down. Another way I let myself rest is to workout at the gym and spend some time getting quiet and alone, being away from life has opportunities for digging deep and discovering more about who you are and the direction you’re going. It’s a good time to get centered.
As a sponsor things are completely different. You want to meet people and discover if your service is a match for their challenges. You can start with these steps:
Four ways to maximize your time as a sponsor
1. On opening night enter the room with confidence. This article by Art Of Manliness on Networking is a masterpiece on the topic.
2. Talk to people, new people. Challenge yourself to speak with the ones you don’t feel comfortable talking with. I remember a few years back wanting to speek with the infamous (in the ColdFusion Community, now NodeJS and AngularJS community too..) Ben Nadel. I’d used his troubleshooting examples and solutions for years, it was only natural to want to meet him. On opening night at a cfObjective() conference I made myself approach him and had a nice conversation – my nerves were tense but I made it.
3. Unplug from work during the conference. This may not be possible for everyone, but do your best to engage with the people, not stare at your computer screen or phone.
4. Listen. One of my favorite times in sessions are question and answer. Attend the sessions your ideal client might be attending. If the speaker is engaging you often get to hear some pretty interesting problems and how to solve them. This also gives you something to think about solving for your customers or be a nice conversation starter.
Also be appreciative of the staff that put together the event. It will go wayyy easier for you if their team enjoys working with you. Again, we appreciate all the time and effort that goes into devObjective(). The planning team, quality, and continual push to make it better for attendees.
Now go enjoy your conferences more!