The more conferences I attend, the more I see that most people fail to prepare and therefore miss out on great opportunities at conferences. What if I told you there are 5 easy things that you can do today to set yourself up for future success at your next conference?
1. Only attend conferences that fit your mission. With hundreds of new conferences starting each year you need to make sure you attend the ones that fit your goals. Do you believe in the mission of the organization? Why do most people attend this particular event? Who do you know who has already attended this conference and what were their big takeaways?
2. Pay early and register for all activities. It’s no secret that the earlier you pay for a conference the better rate you will find. After you purchase your ticket, line up all airfare and housing arrangements. Make sure you have selected your breakouts and all events taking full advantage of the opportunities to grow.
3. Line up meetings with those who you want to learn from. A quick tweet or email to your favorite conference speakers and bloggers can land you an hour long coffee or dinner for personal coaching. Make a list of those who you want to learn from and see if they can work you into their schedule. Pay for their coffee or take them out to dinner to show appreciation for their time and come prepared with solid questions. These appointments may become the best learning opportunities for you but you need to schedule them ahead of time.
4. Write everything into your calendar. Between the thousands of people moving around and being unfamiliar with the building, conferences can be hectic. Prepare for a successful conference by writing everything into your digital calendar. While everyone else is rushing around and flipping through paperwork to figure out where to go next, you can simply glance at your smartphone or watch and head in the right direction.
5. Pack smart. Dress in layers because you will be freezing in one session and burning up in the next. Know the audience of those who will be attending the conference and dress appropriately. Leave room in your luggage for the books and resources you will be picking up and make sure to bring an external battery for your dying cell phone.
Like most things in life, with a little preparation the outcome will be more successful. Here are 5 of my tips for preparing for your next conference. Let me know in the comments what else you would add or share with me what conference you think every leader should be attending!