Make The Most Of Your Next Conference 

If you are in a position where you network with others in your profession you are probably a member of a professional association related to your career.  Work related conferences are a great way to meet people who can help you and they give you the opportunity to advance your skills. 

When you attend a conference you want to spend the time productively.  Now is not the time to party hardy.  Your conference is not a vacation, it is a work-related activity. 

There are some things you should keep in mind if you want to get the most out of attending your conference. 

While you are making your plans to attend the conference make a list of the goals you hope to accomplish there.  Include the information you want to gain, people you want to meet, things you want to buy and relationships that you hope to develop further.  If there are any questions you want answered, include these on your agenda so you will remember to ask the questions. 

Select the sessions that will be most productive for you and your business. Sign up early for those sessions of most value to you as they may be popular and fill up early. 

At the conference refer to your agenda so you can work to achieve your goals during each day.  Review your list at the end of the day, check off those goals that are completed, continue trying to achieve the rest of the goals on your list. 

One of the greatest benefits of attending conferences is the opportunity to meet new people in your field.  You don’t want to spend all your time with friends and colleagues.  You have the chance to make new contacts, develop business opportunities, and cultivate new business relationships.  Join new people at meals and start conversations with new people when walking or attending the various sessions.  Be sure to ask for a business card from your new acquaintances so you can add the contact information to your database of contacts. 

Take the opportunity to talk with the speakers.  The best time to do this is after the speaker has made his or her presentation.  Introduce yourself, compliment the speaker on the presentation and ask for a business card.  These people may be a valuable source of information, referrals and assistance. 

When you return home review the notes you took while you were attending the conference.   Convert your most important ideas to items on your to do list to accomplish.  This gives you tangible benefits for yourself and your company that were derived from your attendance at the conference. 

If you work for a company write a report for management outlining the key ideas gained from attending the conference.  Set forth how the information obtained can benefit the company.  If you are self-employed you still want to write a report.  This will highlight for your own benefit what you gained from the conference. 

You may want to write thank you notes to those people who helped you at the conference and to those new people you met and with whom you hope to stay in contact. 

Use a conference for your benefit.  Take advantage of the opportunity to gain knowledge and meet new contacts.  Take what you have gained at the conference and use it to help advance your career.