Attending a conference — or as many as you can — is a great way to brush up on the skills you need in your career. Not only do they provide insight into your industry, but they allow you to connect with your peers in that world as well.
I’m lucky enough that my company has sent me to a lot of great conferences, for topics like improvement in writing; digital marketing tactics and a few for the travel industry.
At each conference I attend, I’m a little bit more confident and have a clearer vision of what I’m trying to accomplish while I’m there.
Here are some tips for attending a conference on your own, no matter the industry you’re going in:
1. Read the schedule ahead of time.
Be totally aware of the sessions and events you’ll be expected to go to during the duration of the conference. That way, no surprises can be thrown at you. You’ll also know what to pack, which brings me to my next tip —
2. Pack a variety of clothes.
While every conference’s dress code differs, most of them allow for business casual. In addition to enough professional outfits to last you during your time there, you’ll want to bring something a little more casual for other activities. For example, if you’re meeting some fellow attendees for drinks after sessions, you’ll want to wear dark jeans, a blazer and maybe throw on a pair of heels.
3. Meet people and stick with people.
One of the most important aspects of attending a conference is connecting with your peers. While you should try to meet as many people as possible, don’t be afraid to stick with a group of friendly people that you hit it off with during your sessions. Then, during other activities, branch out.
4. Show stuff off
While you’re meeting people, you have the perfect opportunity to tell them more about yourself as well as about your company — and you never know when these conversations could turn into sales leads or other important steps for your business. Carry with you your business cards, a few media kits if your company has one, and any other paper products that you might be remembered by. Hand them out as often as allows.
5. Take good notes
You’re there to learn, so no one is going to say anything if you’re taking notes on your tablet or laptop. At least, carry with you a notebook to jot down ideas that you were excited about during your sessions. These notes could be used to provide valuable presentations to your company later.
Most importantly, have fun. You’ve been given the opportunity to break out of the usual 9-5 for a few days and experience something new.