December 29, 2010

It's Conference Season - You're there, now what?

Happy Holidays. I hope this post finds you enjoying time with family and friends. Let’s continue with our discussion on how to make this upcoming conference season fruitful. I discovered that a successful conference follows a comprehensive plan. Last month I started us off with some pointers for good preparation before you go. Now I want to continue sharing some tips for while you are there and for when you return home.

While you are there

When you first get to the conference you are going to be excited and raring to get moving. There are a few things you want to do right away.

You will want to:
  1. Make sure you know the relationship between your hotel room and both the restaurants and the convention rooms. Plan your travel time accordingly.
  2. Register after you have checked into your hotel room. You will miss some of the registration lines, and you won’t have to lug your suitcase all over the hotel/resort.
  3. Read through the conference handouts, noting any updates and changes. Pay special attention to your name badge as it will be your entry pass to everything.
  4. Note the changes to events or sessions you want to attend.
  5. Locate each planned session on the conference room map.
  6. Use the conference provided backpack or other bag to carry your stuff. make sure you mark it so you know which one is yours.
  7. Download the free conference App for your Blackberry or iPhone if there is one. Many conferences are now using technology to enhance the experience of their attendees. These apps allow you to manage your time more effectively.
  8. Plan to use the free WiFi connection if the hall is set up for access. You can get conference information, email, Twitter access, etc. throughout the day.
  9. Connect with any people you met through the pre-conference online system.
After you return home

Once the conference is over the fun begins. How are you going to take all that great new information you just learned and apply it. There are several things you can do to make sure you don’t lose the new insights you gained. some of them include:

  1. Set up time in the first week to review the notes you took in the different sessions. FInd a place to record them for future use.
  2. Meet with at least three people and share something new you learned. Try to make it relevant to each person.
  3. If you work with a team, or have a team, schedule a training session within the first month to walk the team through some new insight you acquired.
  4. Gather all the business cards you collected and document any conversations you had with those attendees for later connection.
  5. Make sure all the new connections are added to your LinkedIn account (or address book) as soon as possible. You do have a LinkedIn account, right?

Well, you should be well prepared to attend that next conference. Let me know if you have any additional tips that others could use to successfully navigate the conference season.

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