In the last 6 years, I have been to SO many conferences, it should be my full-time title; Professional Conference Attendee. I wish I could say I am joking but I am not, I’ve been to a lot of them.
While I have gone to some and thought, this is exactly like the last one I went to, that’s not true at all. Yes, some content may seem repetitive and yes, sometimes you will know the content better than the presenter (no shame), but it’s okay! But, here is how you make your experience worth your time and money.
Top 5 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Next Conference:
- Have an open mind: Perspective is everything. While the content might be the same, try to pick out the things that stand out the most and that could possibly inspire or motivate new ideas and projects. While you know the content is repetition for you, sit in the sessions with an open mind about learning something new or capturing something you may have never thought of. It’s all the eye of the beholder…right? YES! Keeping an open mind about content and what others are presenting is key in every situation.
- Network with Purpose: I attend seminars, lunch-and-learns, networking events, and conferences. And, yes, some events have the same members or attendees but again, change your perspective. While it’s easy to draw to your same circle or crowd, make it a point to talk to someone new. Or you may want to turn it into an opportunity to meet with someone who you’ve been meaning to catch up with or chat about a project with. Create a list of vendors or other companies who will be at these events so that you can focus on connecting with specific brands. Most events have Facebook event pages created. I like to browse these pages, see who has accepted the invites and reach out to see how we can connect. Again, seek new perspective and your networking will be meaningful.
- Focus: If this conference is new to you, you will want to focus. It’s easy to become distracted by pretty things. At least for me, I get so caught up in who’s there, what are we eating and what’s in my swag bag. Or sometimes the content is so much that you have no clue where to begin or what sessions you should attend. Sometimes you can lose sight of why you are there and what you need to truly obtain from your experience. Remain focused on your goal for attending. Maybe create a short list of what you really want to learn and who need to connect with. Review the agenda and topic/sessions and make a schedule yourself beforehand. Being mentally prepared before attending is a great way to stay focused and get the most of your day.
- Take notes: Lots of notes. Some sessions are so mesmerizing, I forget to take notes and while I am in the moment and taking it all in, I sometimes go home and forgot what it was that really captivated me about the speakers and sessions. So, be old-school and write it down or have your laptop and/or phone to jot down those words, ideas, and tips that stirred creativity or motivation. With that, I have horrible handwriting and sometimes only capture a part of what was said, thinking I will remember the entire context later, which is wrong. So, if you have bad handwriting, make sure you use your laptop or phone for notes and write in full sentences.
- HAVE FUN! Don't forget why you started this journey! We can get so wrapped up in our "business" mentality that we forget to smile and have fun. It's all part of your process and while we should prepare and maintain focus, you should genuinely enjoy the places you go, the meetings you attend and the people you meet! So have fun and get out there! You will not regret it!
THE AUTHOR: CONNIE GOMEZ
Connie, better known as Momma of Dos. Born and raised Texan, she grew up in a small town near the Mexican border and moved to Houston in 1999 to attend the University of Houston where she received her Bachelor's in Psychology. She has worked in the non-profit and governmental sectors for most of her career. These days she works around the clock to provide for her little Mexican-American family both in and outside the home. Her family is composed of her Husband who is also a University of Houston graduate and "Dos" amazing, children; Camila, 6 years old and Santiago, 8.