When preparing for a work conference it's important to remember you have a limited amount of time to make an impression. With that in mind, the following tips will help you deal with whatever you might encounter at a conference.
1. Preparation Tips
With a short time to make a good impression, don't wing it. Come into the conference prepared. Print out a conference schedule and review the sessions and events. Familiarize yourself with the names of the speakers. This can make for an easy conversation topic while networking or can be a great networking opportunity to attend.
Use conference technology. Many conferences now have apps to help you maximize your time. You can use a conference app to stay in touch with schedules and events in the agenda. These apps sometimes list all the attendees, and this allows you to network even further.
Make sure that you're financially prepared for a conference as well. With client dinners and travel expenses, make sure that you understand company spending. Don't be afraid to ask your company about finances. Find out what your company budget is, or if you'll have a daily allowance. If you need to get a corporate card, that might be something to discuss prior to your conference.
2. Attire Tips
With conferences, it's important to be comfortable but also practical. A common piece of advice from those who attend a lot of conferences would be to wear comfortable professional-looking shoes. You'll be on your feet a lot. One way to look more put together is to avoid wrinkles. Bring a mini steamer if needed. It can really come in handy and set you apart from others who weren't as prepared. In professional settings, err on the side of caution and avoid ill-fitting garments. You don't want to wear anything too short, low-cut, or baggy.
3. Networking Tips
Attending a conference is often a great way to put a face to a name. Conferences are often filled with clients or colleagues, so take advantage of this time to connect. Before the conference, email people you want to meet with and line up a time to connect. Conferences can get very busy, so scheduling a time in advance can put you at an advantage when networking. It can also make those you interact with feel like a true priority.
In addition, attend all conference events. Meet new people or connect with those you know by attending hosted breakfasts, keynote speakers, or even hanging around the conference center or hotel lobby.
Always make sure you have your business cards on you. When someone gives you a business card, make sure you ask for one in return. When you receive business cards keep them organized and together. Jotting a quick note about your conversation on a business card is always a smart idea for when you follow up after a conference. Also, make sure to follow up with those you connected with at the conference in a timely manner. Reach out even to say it was nice to meet you, which can be a good way to begin a relationship with that new contact.
4. Socializing Tips
Never forget that a business event is a business event, no matter how comfortable you are with people. Monitor your drinking and know your social limits. Keep in mind that if you go out after a conference, you will most likely run into others who are also attending the conference. Maintain your professionalism the entire time. Even in transportation, out in the city, or on your plane ride. You never know who you could be with who is also attending the conference.