How to Make the Most Out of a Conference

Christina Fakhry, Jan 19 2016

Conferences can be difficult to maneuver when you’re overwhelmed with talks and presentations with hardly any time to focus on anything else.

Are you getting ready for your next conference? Here’s how you can make the most out of it:

1. Develop a clear vision of your professional goals

Before you head to a conference, set up a list of goals you would like to achieve by the end of it. These goals can range from personal objectives to desired professional outcomes. Be specific and realistic in your aspirations.

2. Familiarize yourself with the material prior to attending

It is always helpful for you to go over the conference material prior to attending. And while the speakers’ profiles and conference schedule are usually shared online ahead of time, handouts may serve as a more practical alternative during the event.

3. Make the right choices

Many conferences nowadays feature two or more simultaneous sessions. And since you cannot be everywhere at once, you ought to pick the topic or event that best suits your interests. You may of course be a little more adventurous in your choices, but make sure not to waste your limited conference time with something way out of your area of expertise.

4. Find out who of your connections is attending

This could help you set up quick meetups with professionals you don’t see a lot otherwise, revive old connections, or just feel less lonely.

5. Pack the right gear

This includes everything from business cards to phone and laptop chargers. Keep your things organized and your business card handy. It would also be wise to bring a power bank or relocate next to a power source when you’re short on battery life.

6. Dress presentable but comfortable

We’re not channeling Fashion Police here but you eventually need to put some thought in your appearance because it is the first thing that people will notice about you. Keep it tidy and simple, wear comfortable shoes, and dress in layers so that you can adapt more easily to different room temperatures.

7. Don’t go over the top with notes

Remember that you’re not authoring a 30-chapter novel. Write down essential observations only and try to boil down every talk or presentation to one or two key statements to make it easier for you to follow up on what you’ve learned once the conference is over.

8. NETWORK. NETWORK. NETWORK

 Conferences offer unparalleled and unlimited networking opportunities. Take advantage of coffee breaks and meals to mingle with your co-attendees and grow your professional circle.

9. Do not over-promote yourself

Over-emphasizing your achievements and personal skills at every occasion is a definite no-no. Introduce yourself using few words and let your behavior do the talking.

10. Participate

Ask questions and participate in discussions whenever you are given the opportunity to do so. This will help you stand out from the crowd and get your ideas across. Do not however indulge on lengthy philosophical observations or meaningless inquiries. Be open and straightforward instead.

11. Get your fingers moving

Use social media platforms to connect with both the speakers and attendees by posting and sharing real-time insights from the conference. When using Twitter, stick to the official hashtag.

12. Follow-up

At the end of the conference, go back to the goals you first had in mind and assess their success. Make sure you’ve saved the contact information of your newly-weaved connections and go over your notes to highlight the topics you would like to further research.

Now that you know how to prepare for a conference, will you be attending ArabNet Beirut 2016?

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