November 22, 2010

It's Conference Season - Are You Ready?

It’s that time of year. Conference season. And you have decided that you should attend one. You have done the homework and found the one that meets your needs and convinced your boss that it makes sense for you to go. Now what?

Recently I attended a conference in my field. As I started the process, I realized that it had been a while since I last attended one. I decided to document my experience and share a few things I learned along the way. By following these ideas I was able to turn it into a successful event.

The primary thing I learned was to have a plan. This plan should be comprehensive and should focus on three key areas. It should start before the conference begins, cover the time while at the conference, and review how you will incorporate your new learning and connections into your daily world.

I will use the next two posts to share my insights. This month I will focus on Before You Go.

Before you go

Before you head out to the conference, here are some things you will want to do.

You will want to:

  1. Determine the registration process. Obviously, you don’t want to get there and find out you’re not registered. More importantly you want to take advantage of any early bird registration periods. Typically you can save money by registering before a certain date.
  2. Check to see if the conference has a relationship with a hotel. Typically the conference promoter will partner with a hotel and offer a block of rooms for a discounted rate for attendees. You will need to register early to insure you get a room. This is especially important if the conference is being held at a convention center instead of a hotel/resort. You could find out the only rooms left are at another property miles away.
  3. Visit the conference web site frequently. You will find information on the sessions, the keynotes, the after-hours events, and even local happenings in the community. Some conferences are even creating facebook type sites where you can connect with other attendees before the conference begins.
  4. Review the session program guide thoroughly. Learn all you can about the different sessions and determine which sessions appeal to you. Talk with your peers to see if there are any sessions that may be of interest to them. Take advantage of new technology and download the session guide app. Note that some conferences now allow presenters to post podcasts describing their upcoming session.
  5. Put together a list of sessions you will want to attend each day. You can always change your mind once you get there but having the list in advance saves time and allows the actual event to go smoother.
  6. Plan your evenings, especially if you want to do anything outside the conference, such as connect with friends.

So you are now ready to go. Oh, did I mention, don’t forget to book your travel? Next month I will continue with sections on While You Are There and After You Return Home. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

1 comment:

ElaineSH said...

really appreciate your capturing these steps for enhancing any event/conference/training one might attend.

For me it comes down, to showing up with "expectations" vs. "intentions".

Expectations for me, puts the burden on others to meet my (frequently unidentified by me) expectations.

Intentions for me, puts the burden on me to own my own experience and engage in the event/training/conference in a different way.

Thanks, Elaine