At a professional conference in any industry, the conference is usually broken down into different sessions. In the age of technology, almost every conference in every industry has a technical session. Technical Sessions Can Answer Many Questions about current developments and how companies can stay ahead of the curve.
If you do decide to attend a conference and you have picked up the sessions you want to attend, you need to prepare for each session. For each session including technical sessions, you will be covering different topics and it helps to have specific questions curated for each topic. If you are speakers, then you need to curate a topic that’s the most relevant and current to your topic of choice and also to your audience. Below we discuss ways you can make the most of your conference experience and make the most of each session you attend.
Best Way to Prepare for a Technical Conference
Have an Elevator Speech
Your elevator speech will help you a lot when you have very little time to make an impression (this happens a lot at a conference). When making your elevator speech be sure to answer Who are you? What do you do? Why are you attending the session or Conference? You will be asked these questions, so rehearsing your answers ahead of time will help you prepare your thoughts. In addition, practicing gives you a time to self-introspect and you might discover another reason why you are attending that you hadn’t considered.
Ensure you are early to the session or conference so you have time to be fully prepared and you are not knocked off your game by being in a hurry or being late. When you are early you have a better chance of connecting with sole attendees who are seeking a friendly connection as well. Also, arriving early gives you time to approach sponsors and speakers and introduce yourself and maybe strike up a connection you might have otherwise missed.
Learn How to Be a Good Conversationalist
In addition to preparing your elevator speech, you should learn how to have a good conversation and how to carry on without any awkwardness. Learn how to ask questions and genuinely show interest in people. Actively ask questions that are well thought out, make eye contact and have a positive body language. Be courageous and initiate conversations with strangers. Don’t be shy or timid, approach people with confidence and give a firm handshake. After a session, a good icebreaker is to ask someone what they thought of a particular speaker or who was their favorite speaker of the day. After a person introduces themselves, use their name during the conversation. This makes you more personable.
Have an Exit Strategy
So you should probably have an exit strategy for when you are stuck in a conversation you wish you never started. When you find yourself stuck with someone who just keeps planning on or making terrible jokes, have a strategy to escape. Learn how to politely excuse yourself. Thank them for their time and say “I’m sorry I have to go” or something like that. Always be polite.
Bring Your Business Cards
Business cards are a very valuable asset even in the world of technology they still are. They make connection easier and make you appear more professionals. Make sure they contain all relevant information about you and your business including your social handles. You may have only a brief moment to make contact with someone and handing them a business card is always better than a missed opportunity.
Conferences can go on for hours and possibly the whole day with you moving from session to session. Pack some light snacks like protein bars or cookies and snack cheese. Even if the conference offers food and snacks just have something in your bag just incase. You never know.
Stay in the Conference Hotels
Try to stay in the same hotel that the conference it’s being held. This increases your exposure to other conference goers. If you love to work out, go to the hotel gym and there you can meet other conference goers and strike up a conversation with them. Also meeting conference goers outside the conference environment provides a good opportunity to have quality and even different types of conversations and make a lasting impression.
After the conference don’t forget to follow up on the connections you made. The sooner you follow up the better. Send them an email or send a linkedIn invite and make sure it is not a generic email. Remind them of who you are, summarize the conversation you had and when appropriate suggest or ask for a follow-up meeting like a coffee date or lunch or simple end with “let’s keep in touch”. In addition to an official email or linkedIn invite, you can also connect socially on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc to stay in contact. Send a brief message with your friend request, reminding the person who you are and thanking them for the time they spent speaking with you.