How to maximize your attendance at a professional conference


Recently, I attended a full day PR conference. I knew that it would mean the potential to rub shoulders with over a thousand communications industry professionals and digital content folks as well as reporters.

But, the evening before the conference, I caught myself wondering how to navigate the room, meet fresh faces and make the most of my time there.

Beyond checking if you are properly registered and have the necessary confirmation emails, here are my tips on how to prepare for this type of large networking event:

  1. Plan out your day. Reading the schedule may sound like a given but some events have multiple presentations, classes or workshops running at the same time. Carefully mapping out which ones you are interested in will keep you more focused on enjoying each one. Also learn about each of the presenters’ background with a quick search online. This will help heighten the experience of seeing them in person.
  2. Pre-socialize (a made-up word it might be indeed…). Update that LinkedIn account of yours. And meeting people and later keeping in touch is facilitated immensely by networking apps like Swapcard that elevate participants’ experience by allowing them to seek out the right people at events with a built-in digital business card.
  3. Practice your elevator pitch. Making a good impression lies in that first minute or two. So know how to present yourself and offer a quick compelling summary on what you do. Remember to highlight your company’s most recent accomplishment.
  4. Have three topics of discussion in mind. Avoid being stuck with nothing to say. You look smarter and more interesting if you have a few conversation starters.
  5. Be active on social media. Have your smart phone fully charged, take photos and participate in the online discussions using the hashtag of the day. But be cautious not to overdo it as human interaction is more important than staring at your phone.
  6. Pack your bag or purse with goodies. Some business cards, a pen and small notepad, and even a healthy granola bar to get you through the day.

Attending all kinds of industry events or courses can be so much more fun and inspirational if you have all the tools to make them an enjoyable experience. At what event might I run into you?


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