Attending a conference is one of the best career moves you can make.
It is no surprise that I love conferences – I have made a career out of attending, speaking and running them, and it is undeniable that they have changed my life.
Not only have I improved as a sourcer, recruiter and manager by attending conferences, but I have also had the privilege of connecting with key individuals that have opened the doors to many exceptional opportunities in my career.
As a conference organiser myself, I have seen and experienced first hand how people can maximise their conference experience. Here are a few of my suggestions.
Do your homework
Conference organisers spend months crafting their agenda and working with speakers to ensure you have an remarkable experience. You should take advantage of their hard work and memorise the conference agenda. Look for ideal opportunities to network with delegates and, most importantly, research each speaker.
I have witnessed many attendees scramble between sessions in a panic trying to choose their next session. It is wise to build your agenda before attending a conference and always enter a conference with a plan.
Once you have your plan in place, research as many topics and as many speakers as possible. I recommend connecting with conference speakers on LinkedIn and conducting a search on their name in a search engine. Try and locate past articles they have published. This will give you some insight into the speaker’s passions and likely a preview into their presentation.
Don’t forget you can search for speakers on YouTube and podcasts too.
Increase your visibility
If you aren’t big on social media, now is the time to change that. Before attending a conference, you should beef up your LinkedIn profile, and activate your Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Learn the conference hashtag and start using it to let others know that you are attending. For the upcoming ATC conference, use #ATC2019.
You can use a product like TweetDeck to save your search on conference hashtags so you can see others that are tweeting. LinkedIn now lets you save/follow hashtags so that you can see updates from others that have included it in a post.
Social media is an easy way to get to know others before the conference and to also communicate with others once you are onsite. While at the conference, don’t forget to use that hashtag to share what you learned or who have you met.
Put on your out-of-office
I have seen world-renowned experts drop significant knowledge from the big stage and half the audience is glued to their laptops or smartphones responding to work emails.
You should take advantage of your time there and embrace each session. Information can be shared so quickly; it is easy to become distracted and miss a crucial piece of knowledge that will be so beneficial to you.
Leave your room
Whether you are local, or lodging at a nearby hotel room, don’t spend time alone in your room. Get out and meet people.
Usually, the best place to meet new faces is at the hotel bar or pre-event socials. The best networking and learning typically take place outside of the conference.
It is incredible how many opportunities have presented itself over a few glasses of fine wine.
Eat with someone new
If you are attending a conference with your mates or coworkers, divide and conquer during breakfast or lunch.
Meals are a perfect time for networking and sharing information. It is a forced conversation but there are ways to make it easier.
For a start, you can try to spark a discussion with other delegates by asking their name, and employer and what sessions they are excited to attend. Just avoid the garlic. 😉
Record each session
It is hard to remember every word that every speaker will say at a conference. Use your smartphone to record each session. A voice recorder will use less battery.
When you have time, go back and listen to your favourite sessions. You will learn something you missed.
Bring a wireless charger
Conferences will drain your mobile devices’ batteries. Carry a wireless charger with multiple charging ports. Outlets are rare and often occupied.
You might also make a friend or two by offering up your wireless charger to others in need.
Get to know the sponsors
In addition to getting to know the speakers, research the sponsors as well.
Sure, they are there to gain leads, but you will be surprised how many companies are there to help you better find and manage Talent.
Research which ones seem interesting and request a demo in advance or at the conference. Sponsors are significant contributors to conferences, and they are there to help you.
I have met so many brilliant vendors at conferences that have become strategic partners to the success of my team and organisation.
Share, share and share!
I saved the best advice for last – sharing. I am a firm believer that everyone should attend a conference prepared to share and to help others.
In my opinion, there is nothing better than sharing your experience or advice with other attendees. We aren’t competitors at the conference; we are friends. By sharing information, you open yourself to others, and you open yourself up to learning.
Speakers are a wealth of knowledge, but often the best advice is learned from other delegates in similar situations to you at these events. After the conference concludes, share what you learned. Write a blog and bug Trevor to speak at the next event!
Conferences are fun, and they are exciting. Come with an open mind and be prepared for a busy two days.
I’m looking forward to serving as your host for the upcoming ATC conference in June. If you would like to network with me before the conference, find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Hope to see you in person in June!
Join Shannon at the upcoming ATC2019 to explore the elements necessary for Talent Acquisition (TA) to thrive and reach high performance levels as we enter the age of intelligence. Get your tickets here.
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