A conference can be a fantastic place to network with people in your industry as well as a chance to gain insight and ideas on a variety of different topics. But sometimes you can go away from a conference feeling that you haven’t really gained anything. There’s no use wasting your time on a flat experience, so here are four ways to get the most out of a conference that you are attending.
Many people think that networking isn’t their thing. How do you awkwardly approach and then keep up a dialogue with strangers? The truth is it’s actually relatively easy to be an introverted person when networking – you just do exactly what you do normally: listen. Ask questions to the people you meet and let them do the talking. Ultimately you are looking to forge strong relationships with people and sometimes the best way to do this is to allow them to take the lead.
Go it alone
If you attend a conference with a number of colleagues it can be tempting to spend much of the day with them, watching presentations together and even attempting to network together. This can actually be a mistake – trying to do anything in a large group just encourages you to talk to each other and can be too intimidating for other people to try to strike up a conversation with you. You’ll get more out of the day if you split up. You can spend time watching different speakers and engage in natural networking with others.
Get ideas for your own
Of course one of the key aspects of going to a conference is the opportunity to take a range of ideas away from it. One aspect of this that is sometimes overlooked is that the fact that you can get fantastic ideas and techniques for your own presentations. Your company may wish to be involved in a conference itself at some point down the line and this can be the perfect opportunity to take down notes on the best presentations you watch. This could be anything from the layout of a slideshow on PowerPoint or the use of technology like an audience response system.
Engage with speakers
There’s nothing that a conference speaker likes more than to have an audience that engages with their presentation. From your perspective this can also be a brilliant way to set up a great basis for networking later on. As you watch the presentation, think of questions to ask at the end so that you can begin a dialogue with the speaker. This can be an ideal way to get more knowledge or even develop unexpected business connections. Remember, speakers will always be flattered by the interest that you have shown in their talk and this can start your conversation out on a strong foot. It is a great idea to forge connections with respected experts too.