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PRE-CONFERENCE & POST-CONFERENCE: HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR ATTENDANCE

“There’s a lot of pre-conference prep that needs to go into attending a conference if you really want to maximize your learning and networking.”

the word learn in scrabble

So, you’re thinking of registering for a conference! How exciting! Or is it?

Pre-Conference

There’s a lot of pre-conference prep that needs to go into attending a conference if you really want to maximize your learning and networking.

It’s everything from registering and paying for your registration to booking travel to organizing things back at the office so that your absence is not disruptive to others.

pre-conference checklist

If you’re a conference ninja, once you’re on the ground, you’ll be doing a whole bunch of different things to take advantage of attending a conference:

  • Shaking hands
  • Taking notes
  • Smiling a lot
  • Eating & drinking
  • Listening and nodding
  • Sitting & standing

You may find yourself on the move from early in the morning to late at night with little or no time to catch your breath, check up on email back at the office, or even connect with your family and friends at home.

As someone who organizes these types of events, I’m very conscious of how hectic it can be. I’m always trying to build in some down time in the conference schedule or allow for some non-scheduled windows so that attendees can connect organically or even grab a 20-minute power nap or quick workout.

I believe, however, that the real benefit of attending a conference comes after the conference ends. It’s the follow-up and what you do with all that new information and those new connections that counts.

Post-Conference

Here are a few suggestions for how to spend your time after the conference ends in order to fully maximize the experience:

#1) Read the Post-Event Emails from Conference Organizers

The post-event communication often asks for your opinions on what you liked and what you didn’t, contains links to valuable presentations or resources, or offers a discount on registration fees for next year’s event. Don’t delete this email!

#2) Block Time for Follow-Ups

As soon as your butt lands back in your office chair, your schedule will belong to someone else unless you carve out some time to follow-up with all the great people you met at the conference or review the new stuff you learned.

follow-up written out

Keep your out-of-office on for an extra day and spend the day after the conference at home with your computer to connect with people on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, fire off ‘nice to meet you’ emails and read up on what you learned.

This one thing will transform your conference experience from a total waste of time to a genuine success!

#3) Search the Conference Hashtag & Engage

You may not have had time to engage and react on social media with everything happening at the conference while it was happening. However, the day after it ends is still a great time to interact and leverage your involvement at the event.

#4) Highlight Some Key Learnings and Share Them

If your colleagues didn’t attend the conference with you, they can still benefit from your experience if you summarize a few key highlights or learnings and share them at your next team meeting or via email.

Tip – this is also a great way to reinforce to your boss that your attendance at this conference was well worth the money and the time away from your desk!

If you plan both the logistics of getting yourself to the conference along with the post-conference sequel, you’ll have a successful conference filled with lots of learning opportunities and new valuable additions to your professional network.

If you happen to be a speaker at a conference, you may want to check out my blog post 4 Speaker Tips & Tricks: How to Avoid Death by PowerPoint

I also share conference planning tips on my vlogs and videos here. 

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