Make the most of your next business trip with Cairn Hotel Group
Sunday 1st October 2017
The venue is booked, speakers confirmed and presentations complete, but are your delegates as prepared as you are when it comes to attending a conference?
We all know that planning is key to organising a successful conference event, but for it to be a real success, why not go that extra mile and help your attendees make the most of it?
That’s where we come in… we’ve prepared a handy ‘how to’ guide to maximise the learning and networking opportunities your next conference will offer.
Read on for our wise words on how to get the most out of attending a conference:
1. DITCH YOUR BUSINESS CARDS AND OPT FOR LINKEDIN
Instead of filling your pockets with business cards that may not lead to further communication, why not connect with those you network with on LinkedIn there and then? This way, you’re linked up instantly and it’s easier for them to look you up in the future.
2. SWAP NOTE TAKING FOR PICTURE TAKING
Avoid frantically scribbling notes that are hard to decipher after the conference and instead take photos of the presentation slides that are beneficial. You could even record the speaker using a voice recording app found on most mobile phones which will be less time consuming, allowing you to have your full attention on the presentation which is ultimately more valuable.
After the conference, take time to go through the photographs and recordings to make concise notes, this way you’ll be able to see if you want to follow up on any points raised or connect with people you met on the day.
3. TURN ON YOUR OUT OF OFFICE
Don’t spend the entire conference replying to work emails and instead act as though you are away from your desk on that day by switching your out of office on. Although attending a conference is a work-related activity, it can be a great opportunity to better your career and professional development, so your phone should only be used for that goal.
4. PLAN YOUR DAY
Before the conference, take time to look up the talks and speakers before you arrive, and make a list of the sessions you would like to attend. You can often find videos of previous talks by the speakers online, allowing you to gauge if it will be of much value to you.
5. DON’T OVERSCHEDULE YOURSELF
Decide on a few talks you would like to go to but don’t plan to attend more than that. This will leave time to network organically over coffee, or allow you to fit in an unplanned talk that you might come across on the day. If you find yourself in a session that isn’t quite what you thought it would be, don’t feel bad about slipping out and going to a different one – use your time wisely and for your own professional goals.
6. MAKE LUNCH PLANS
Ahead of the conference, arrange to meet someone for lunch via LinkedIn. As well as meeting new people, a conference is also the time to build better relationships with existing contacts, so reach out to plan a catch up over lunch or coffee whilst at the event. Alternatively, perhaps you’ve noticed that someone you’ve always wanted to connect with is also attending the conference, so use it as an opportunity to reach out to them and suggest meeting up.
7. CONNECT WITH THE SPEAKERS
Speakers at a conference are experts in their field, so it’s incredibly valuable to connect with them. Don’t be afraid to sit in the front row at a talk, as these seats will put you in a prime position to ask questions and make yourself known.
Hang around at the end of a talk, even if you’re the last person, and use this as a chance to say hello, complement their presentation and connect on LinkedIn. Practice your brief introduction so that if the speaker asks what you do, you have a five to ten second summary of your job title at the tip of your tongue.
8. GET SOCIAL
Most conferences will have a dedicated hashtag, so during the event tag this in your posts and monitor it to see what people are talking about. Share quotes from speakers and notable moments throughout the day on your own social channels amongst your following.
9. DIVIDE AND CONQUER
If you’re attending with co-workers, try and see as much as possible by splitting up and going to different talks, ensuring you’re all able to take valuable points away from the day. Plan to get lunch or coffee to regroup.
Beforehand, familiarise yourself with the conference space – arrange a meeting point and make sure you don’t miss a talk or turn up late to a session.
10. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
Whilst it’s good to be present at social events at a conference, it’s also important to recognise that your personal health and mindset comes first. If that means skipping a drinks reception on one of the days in order to chill out in your hotel room and reboot after a busy day at the conference, that’s fine. Taking time for yourself will ensure you don’t burn out or get too stressed, and will allow you to make the most of the overall experience.