Fall is the season when confrences really kick off– you might be hitting the road a lot and lugging your phone, laptop, tablet and a whole set of chargers through various hotels and venues. This sort of events can be really fun, informative, and productive, but they also have a tendency of getting a bit chaotic. Maša Djikanović, an avid conference goers, has a few tips for you:
1. Plan Ahead
One does not simply walk into Mordor, says Maša, and the same goes for conferences. You should have a plan, and this plan should most definitely entail a list of places nearby where you can have a decent lunch. With all the keynotes, sessiones and contacting, you won’t have much time to roam around unfarmiliar streets looking for a place to grab a bite and avoid food poisoning. Turn to Yelp or Foursquare to give you some ideas and pick several favorites and a few backups. Don’t let your stomach be the loudest keynote speaker!
2. Be flexible
Chances are, you already have your heart set on several sessions and you would do anything to attend- alas, sessions get cancelled or overbooked and sometimes you are left out, sad and disappointed. Well, cut your whining and make the best of this situation. For one, have some backups ready– topics that hold your interest. You can also take a chance– Maša claims that some of her best conference experiences were sessions she attended on the spur of the moment. On one of these chance sessions she met a speaker whom she describes as “part time blogging messiah, and part-time stand-up comedian“- and she and her team invited him to speak at their conference!
3. Check Out Those Booths
We won’t lie to you and say that every time you don’t check out a booth, one booth fairy dies. But those booths are usually run by people who are incredibly passionate about their work and you will miss out on an opportunity to share some of their enthusiasm. Not that we think you answer to bribe, but just in case you do- there are usually awesome freebies , but also, unexpected business opportunities. Maša and the rest of the team at .me have been known to interview bloggers that use .me, feature them on this blog and social media channels, and give them the extra exposure they deserve! So go save those booth fairies, score some freebies and check out what the boots have to offer.
4. Bring Business Cards. Bring More.
Conferences are 70% learning, 30% networking and 100% fun, says Maša. Whereas her math skills seem a bit off, she is right about one thing- both fun and learning experience are important, but conferences are amazing opportunities for networking. Where else can you meet so many people who share your interests in one place? So make sure you don’t forget your business cards (a lot of them!) so your new best friends, business partners and collaborators can easily get back at you.
5. Follow Up!
So you got home, got some sleep, but still feel that post-conference buzz? now is the time to go through those business cards and shoot everyone an email. This is especially important for potential business partners – remind them where you met, what you discussed and where you’d like to go from there. Maša’s advice is to include a personal comment– that is bound to score you some brownie points. After conferences people usually get tons of mail, but the ones that stand out are those with a personal touch.
So take this little cheat-sheet, make a mental note to thank Maša if you ever meet her in a conference and have a great memorable and productive time at a conference!