Business conferences are a massive learning experience. From developing skills to making new connections and from generating sales leads to getting a new job, business conferences offer diverse perks.
But how much value you squeeze out of a business conference depends on your approach, planning, smartness and past experience.
If all this sounds too intimidating then, worry no more as listed below are 12 proven tips to make the most out of attending a business conference.
1. Have clear goals-
Business conferences are an ocean of blistering activities. You get to hear from industry experts, meet people of similar passion and gain sales leads. These immense opportunities make business conferences worthy but at the same time make it overwhelming as well.
Too many options lead to confusion. Although there is so much to gain from these conferences, you cannot ride all horses at the same time. Instead of attending conferences ‘just to mingle with people and learn new things’ find out exactly what your goals are.
Go through the conference schedule and figure out what value these events can offer you. Make a well-defined plan about which event you want to attend and what you wish to accomplish from these conferences.
Don’t forget to make back-up plans in case you miss out on a particular event.
You invest your time and resources while attending a business conference. So it is imperative to gain tangible ROI from your investments through clear planning.
2. Divide and share your learnings-
Business conferences throw plenty of learning and networking opportunities. There are presentations, panel discussions and events. All happening simultaneously, leaving you spoilt for choice.
If you find yourself in such situation where you have limited time and a plethora of things to explore, then seek help from your co-workers. Tag with them and chalk out a detailed plan about who will attend what event.
Ask everyone to take notes and when you come back from the conference, share them with everyone over a cup of coffee. This exercise of ‘collective learning’ allows everyone to gulp vast amount of knowledge without making any sacrifices.
Taking notes and sharing your learnings makes you a better listener and results in squeezing out more value from the event.
3. Keep a copy of resume with you-
Business conferences are ideal places for networking. These events let you mingle with people from your profession and have potential of boosting your career prospects.
To make the most of these opportunities ensure you are adequately armed. Visit career fair sections and reach out to influential people.
Don’t forget to carry hard copies of your resumes as these career fairs are equipped with resume databases where you can stamp your presence by uploading your resume. Always carry several copies of your resume as you never know when and how many opportunities are waiting for you at the conference.
4. Exchange business cards in organized manner-
At the end of a typical business conference you are left with a pile of business cards. While gazing at this ‘latest collection’ of yours, you may wonder whether exchanging business cards serves any purpose or not.
The answer even if it sounds passé, is affirmative. In today’s high-paced tech age, business cards are ideal for establishing your identity quickly. A professional and creatively designed business card creates an instant impression and fuels your brand promotion.
Business cards work as a momento or reminder of your conversation with the other person and paves way for future communications.
To amplify the effect of business cards, jot down essential details on the back of the business card. Write down the place and date of meeting and key points of your discussion.
5.Be prepared for everything-
Business conferences are chaotic. There are too many distractions and too little time to engage with a person.
Remember you have limited time to create an impression and there are several others attending the conference with same intentions as yours. Make sure you give your everything during your moment to impress.
The key to deliver a flawless, all-inclusive and perfect pitch lies in practice. Before hitting the conference, practice what and how you are going to make your pitch and take care of minute details. From your greetings for the day to your handshake and from making eye-contact to uttering the precise words, practice and plan everything.
If you are looking forward for job prospects, be ready to give a quick interview on the spot. Prepare yourself for every occasion and grab your opportunity with both hands.
6. Equip yourself with the survival kit-
There is this incredible presentation going on and the speaker shows a slide containing valuable data. You don’t want to miss it and think of clicking a picture. You take out your phone only to realize the phone’s battery is dead.
Or sometimes you are attending a fantastic presentation and are enjoying every moment of it. But soon you realize the room temperature is too cold and your body starts shivering. You don’t want to miss out on the presentation but your body cannot bear it anymore.
Business conferences are full of such trivial issues that hinder your conference experience. The only way to overcome them is to equip yourself to every extent.
The temperature at these places can be too cold or too hot. So, wear layers and carry a scarf or sweater. Keep a water bottle in your bag along with some light snacks as there is no bigger distraction thanj hunger.
Wear clothes and shoes that are comfortable even when you wear them for a long period. Keep your phone charged or carry a powerbank. Relive your bag from unnecessary burden such as laptops.
7. Have space to keep swag-
Business promoters at conferences shower attendees with all kinds of swag. Most of it is useless but some swag is actually worthy and you should Infact look forward to receiving them.
Nobody returns empty handed from a business conference. So carry a bag with plenty of empty space in it for keeping the swag you are certain to receive.
8. Reach early to avoid disappointment-
Arriving late to a presentation is the biggest sin you can commit in a business conference.
By arriving late you refrain yourself from enjoying the ‘complete experience’ and sometimes you may fail to understand speaker’s point of view as you listen to only half of their speech.
In the worst case scenario you may be deprived from attending the presentation as by the time you reach the venue, there would be no more seats available.
It is mandatory to arrive early for presentations that you are excited about and look forward to. Popular events have long queues and to beat that, arriving early is the only cheat code.
9. Grab a chair in the front-
You aren’t in school anymore but sitting in the front row still offers premium privileges.
The front row seats are prime real estate spots in a seminar hall as people in the front row have plenty of perks.
By sitting in front, you see and hear the speaker with clarity and can read slides effortlessly. And as the talk gets over, you have a jumpstart when people crowd to meet the speaker.
10. Choose quality over quantity while networking-
Business conferences attract a sea of people. This mammoth gathering of people opens up limitless networking opportunities and the sheer number of people around you forces you to strike a conversation with every other person you come across.
But this is where you must play it cool and think before you jump in the trap. A couple of meaningful and real human conversations weigh more than a hundred soulless conversations which head to nowhere.
Instead of counting the number of conversations you make, focus on creating fruitful and prospective relationships through real conversations.
If you are hesitant to speak first, then use the conference as ice-breaker. Start with questions related to the conference such as which speaker you enjoyed the most? Or about the speaker which disappointed you the most.
11. Follow up-
All efforts you take to enrich your network add to nothing if you don’t follow up.
Following up amplifies your new connection and ensures it lasts long. Once you hit home after the conference, shoot a message on LinkedIn talking about the discussion you had and other details.
Make sure to deliver value through your message as it is supposed to take the conversation ahead. Do not send hollow ‘thank you for the conversation’ messages as they are equivalent to spam and end up in the dustbin.
Follow up with intent and follow up before 24 hours to make you get noticed.
12. Enjoy and have fun!
Conferences are serious a business. They must be attended with proper planning, equipments and a clear agenda in mind.
But this doesn’t translate into being monotonous and serious.
Conferences can be your escape from the chaotic daily office life. So, stay relaxed and have fun during your conference visit. Enjoying yourself not only helps in amplifying the conference experience but also results in some of the finest connections you will ever make.
With these 12 essential tips, you are sure to tap the enormous potential of business conferences and have a gala time while learning, networking and relaxing!