Surviving a conference

Conferences can be pretty daunting. New places! New people! Too many ideas! Too few! I’m just back from a really rewarding (read: exhausting) conference and have been thinking about what made it so good. Here are some ideas …

  • Be kind to yourself. Bring a water bottle, snacks, tissues, moisturiser, painkillers and anything else that will make you feel more comfortable
  • You don’t have to go to every session. It’s great to expand your field of vision, but if something doesn’t look interesting or relevant, then it probably isn’t
  • If networking doesn’t come naturally to you, there are lots of alternatives to bowling up to the largest group of people in the room:
    • Engage with people on social media before and during the conference
    • Do your research. My friend Laura is a complete introvert, but she networks like a queen because she knows who’s who and always has interesting questions for them
    • Get a conference buddy! If you don’t know many people or you’re finding it hard to make friends, find someone else in the same boat
    • Remember, meeting someone new is as important to them as it is to you
  • Ask a question or make a comment in sessions. Even just standing up and saying “thanks, I really appreciated your presentation because …” will mean a lot to the presenter and help you be remembered
  • Resist the temptation to live tweet the whole thing. Isolated quotes aren’t actually as interesting as they seem at the time and it’s really distracting – try waiting until the end and providing a summary comment or two
  • Don’t forget business cards! They’re cheesy but effective
  • AND bring a big bag or pick one up from the conference vendors early on. There’s nothing worse than wandering around with your hands full when you’re trying to meet people
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