Attending a Conference? Advance Your Career with These 5 Conference Attendance Tips
Conferences can be an important part of professional growth for both, young and seasoned professionals in a multitude of career fields. However, just going to a conference and sitting through some presentations and attending a social is not enough. Follow these five recommendations to maximize your time and get the most out of the meeting.
1. Prepare well in-advance
A successful conference doesn’t just happen, planning is key to getting the most out of your experience. As soon as the conference website is posted, review the content and get familiar with the theme and types of sessions they are offering. It is also a good idea to follow the conference on social media, review speakers’ lists for thought leaders in your field, and make note of the most interesting sessions as they are posted and begin to lay out a day-day schedule so you can attend the most valuable sessions. By the time you arrive, you should have your personal itinerary complete and you can sail through the meeting with ease. For young professionals, take advantage of volunteer opportunities, this will give you access to presenters, established professionals, and behind the scenes exposure to the inner workings of the conference. Also, plan to submit a topic for presentation, any chance to present is a great way to get your name on the agenda and get in front of possible mentors or new colleagues. It may be a poster to start, but even posters are a valuable opportunity to make an impression. Be sure to update your LinkedIn and other social media profiles before attending the meeting, you want to be ready for the new connections you will make.
2. Target advanced skills
Another way to advance your skills is through attendance at workshops and special sessions. Some conferences offer a myriad of workshops and it is important to review the offerings early and sign up for those sessions that will provide you with a distinct skill or certification for your resume. Workshops typically limit the number of participants, so it is imperative to sign up early. Besides workshops, there are often pre- and post-conference offerings. These sessions vary widely ranging from lectures, test administration for certifications, outings, and professional development courses. These sessions may provide another valuable resource for building your resume or meeting companies and leaders in your field.
3. Build relationships
The most important part of a professional career is relationships. Attending conferences is an excellent means to building relationships with previous and new colleagues, mentors, companies, and other organizations, all of which can help guide you along your path. Most meetings offer social hours and events to spur conversation, networking, and opportunities to make valuable connections. A week of lectures and workshops can be tiring, and it is often tempting to skip these events, but don’t let yourself off the hook. The social events and mixers may be almost more important than attending the latest lecture on cell biology or walking through the exhibit hall. If you are an entry-level professional seeking your first job or maybe a job change, visiting vendors and company booths located around the conference can be an excellent place to hand out a business card and a resume. These companies are often there to seek out new or experienced talent to join their organization. Don’t miss out on these opportunities.
4. Post-conference follow up
Now that the conference is over, it’s time to follow up. Reach out to new contacts to formalize your connection. This can be accomplished through email, sending a request to connect on LinkedIn, and following them and their organization on other social media platforms. If you offered to provide follow up information, make sure you deliver anything promised in a timely manner. If the connection was a potential mentor or leader in your field, you can start by following them on social media and seeking other opportunities to interact. Maintaining these connections will help you build a professional network, which will in turn help you advance your career.
5. Reinforce learning
A powerful tool to reinforce what you learned at the meeting is to share your insights, skills, and information with colleagues and co-workers. This may come in the form of a work presentation, a school project, writing an article for a professional newsletter, or other forum that allows you to pass along tips, resources, and the latest advances in your field. Repetition is still the best method of learning and sharing is a great way to achieve this end.
We hope this advice helps you get the most out of your next conference. If you need further support, Novelle can take care of all aspects of conference presentations, supply technical experts for conference attendance, or give recommendations on what conferences might be of interest to you or your company.
Rita Simmons is the founder and lead consultant of Novelle, where she provides business and research consulting to companies across a variety of industries. Dr. Simmons leverages her drive for innovation and excellence along with her extensive executive and military experience to help business owners grow their business, drive revenue, and achieve strategic goals. When you’re ready to take your business to the next level, contact Dr. Simmons at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.