Wednesday, February 15, 2017
1. Engage online prior to the conference. Many conferences start online groups on Facebook or Twitter for attendees to start the conversation early. Be sure to join and get engaged. You might want to pose a few questions, such as asking for advice for a first-time attendee or finding out what sessions or topics others are most interested in.
2. Identify 3-5 individuals you want to meet and schedule meetings in advance. Look over the schedule and the featured speakers and identify a few you'd like to meet. Likely you can find their contact information easily with a simple search. Send a brief message letting the person know what you'd like to discuss with an offer to buy a coffee or drink. Most people are generous and you can count on several of these forays to result in a meeting.
3. Narrow your focus and plan to attend fewer sessions than you want to attend. You can usually find session after session that sounds interesting and valuable but you might want to consider planning to attend fewer than you think at first glance. You'll want to save time for those sessions that go long, provoke spontaneous conversations among attendees, or offer you an opportunity to talk with one of the presenters.
4. Schedule time to rest and recharge. You'll be at your best and enjoy the conference more if you schedule regular time to rest, get away from the crowds, and recharge.
5. Follow the people you meet on social and mention or retweet them. In addition to collecting business cards be sure to follow the people you meet on their social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and share or retweet information they put out there.
6. Send a brief message of thanks and follow-up with your new contacts within a week of the conference. Once you get home and get resettled you'll want to send a note of thanks to those you meet and invite them to connect with you on your social media channels.
These are just a few of the steps you can take to get the most out of your upcoming professional conference.