30 Conference Go-er Tips

Random Observation/Comment #575: Conferences on the similar topics often have the same attendees. New location, same content, and same people.

Pretty Office Lens output

Why this list?

I attend 1-2 conferences every 2 months (they’re usually free if you offer to be on a panel). I’ve been told I do a pretty decent job covering these conferences by keeping up-to-date with business connections and taking notes on the main events. I’ve been asked “how” enough times to write some tips for fellow conference go-ers.

  1. Office Lens – this is a recent discovery, but really cool for taking photos of slides presented on screens and saving them (works on iOS, Android, and Windows)
  2. Set a goal of the optimal outcome – “I’ll be happy if I… Meet with this person and learn the latest on this project… Introduce myself to…”
  3. Review the attendees – Who do you want to connect with at the conference? A vendor?
  4. Look at who else is attending and familiarize yourself with the companies ahead of time – This will be useful when you’re socializing and see where people work
  5. Review the agenda diligently – Hopefully you’re going for a reason and not just to attend
  6. Don’t be ambitious with attending all the sessions – Quality over quantity
  7. Remember names – You’ll likely see the same people again if this becomes a recurring thing
  8. Practice your 2 sentence intro that provides info on your company, role, and relevant interest to the conference – sometimes “I’m here with <company> interested in exploring <technology use case>” can start a good conversation
  9. Figure out your company angle – People will bucket you and the company you represent as a vendor (selling something), user (buying something), or partner (for connections).
  10. Figure out your own angle – People will then judge you as being a tech person, meeting business filler, or decision maker
  11. Keep track of your own opinions to the conference because people will always ask “what do you think so far?”
  12. Write something interesting on your name tag – It’s a good way to start a conversation
  13. Make connections and introduce yourself randomly while getting coffee or food
  14. Notice other people’s name tags – Hopefully you’ve done your research and you don’t start with “What does your company do?”
  15. If it’s a multi-day conference, spend the first night writing follow up emails to the people you meet
  16. Bring a stack of business cards – It’s old school, but people still do it
  17. Hand out a business card if you mean you want to make a connection. If someone gives you one, then you can also return the favor (unless you’re running low)
  18. If the conference has a section for vendors, don’t just go and collect all the swag. Make sure you learn something about their company and provide a two-way street on your interest. If vendors ask for your card, then they think there’s a possible partnership or sale
  19. Lunch time is a good time to mingle – Join a random table and introduce yourself. There may be like minded attendees that can bring valuable connections
  20. If you want to see if someone is interested in connecting with your business, ask them for a time during the conference at a later time to connect – You can message them by email right away and see if they’ll spend 15-20 minutes going into more detail
  21. When listening to the presentations, sit near the large screens showing the slides so you can take photos of them. I also tend to sit near edges if I know I might leave early
  22. If you get presentation fatigue, take a break and drink some water. Just see the key takeaways
  23. Imagine you need to create 10 slides for the whole conference and write what’s relevant as well as take-aways. Hint: Photos help a lot
  24. Google Keep has a function to turn images you attach to text – Works really well on slides!
  25. If you’re at the event with a coworker, make sure you’re not taking duplicate notes. Divide and conquer!
  26. Take advantage of the location if your conference is somewhere fun! You’re allowed to do a touristy thing here and there (my blogpost in San Francisco)
  27. Bring a backpack and pack a charger – You’ll likely need one for all the notes you’re taking
  28. Go to workshops where possible – The tech attendees tend to talk more candidly if you ask the right questions and get on their passionate topics
  29. Always thank the organizer if you know or see them at the conference. Even if they don’t know you, you will represent the company well
  30. Call your significant other! I miss you and have a fun time.

~See Lemons Attend Conferences

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