There is nothing like attending a conference full of your peers, there’s a captive audience practically smacking you in the face wanting to know more about who you are and the products or services you have to offer. Don’t allow this opportunity to be a waste of money and time. Anytime you attend a conference or major networking event be prepared to showcase your stuff! Here are my 7 tips you should embrace when attending your next conference. Sometimes all you have is one shot. One chance to make a first impression and the right impression.
Do your research!
Before you arrive be sure to scout out the location of the venue ahead of time. Estimate how much time you will need to arrive at the conference on time. Also, plan ahead for parking, depending on the size and location of the conference, parking has the potential to be a nightmare. Additionally, some conferences will have designated parking areas, valet parking, or self-parking for a fee. So be sure you have it all covered and worked out to avoid any unnecessary stress during your conference experience. You can also connect with current and past attendees, experts and organizers to get more of an inside scoop on events and how best to plan for them.
Get Social with it!
Go on a social prowl checking out social media accounts for the conference or event. See what others are saying about the conference. Don’t focus only on the present but also check out what past attendees are saying about the conference and their experiences. Go on social or search the Web to find out what’s in store from people who have already attended. Creative organizations who seeking to boost attendance and exposure for their events often use hashtags on social media to publicize their events. For example I’m heading to a 3-day business boot camp. Leading up to the event for the past month and a half we have been instructed to use the hashtag #roadtoatlanta being that the conference is in Atlanta and women are coming from all over the world to attend. Once we get to the conference we will have another hashtag to document our experiences during the actual workshop. It’s a great way to get career and leadership insights, network and track who’s attending.
Dress to Impress!
This should also go without saying. The dress code for a conference can vary depending on the organization culture, nature of industry or type of event. When attending a conference you want to make sure you look uber chic but you also want to be comfortable. And let’s not forget to be professional. Your attire should be professional in appear. Often at big name conferences or events there are photographers on hand document the event in imagery and you want to make sure you look the part. Exude confidence, not only do you want to look good but you want to feel good too! You know my favorite Deion Sanders quote, "If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good."
Have a Clear Goal in Mind!
Before you even arrive at the event, manage your expectations and have a clearly defined goal. Know why it is that you are going and what it is you wish to take away from the conference. Whether you want to meet new people, get new client leads or discover potential job opportunities have your take aways and hopeful outcomes defined. Conferences are full of activities, with much to do and learn, be sure not to get distracted. While some distractions are to be expected, know that you can’t be all to all and be everywhere at once. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying too hard or doing too much.
Be prepared to Network!
Conferences, workshops, and large events are ideal for networking. These types of events are breeding grounds for potential business collaborations and client referrals. Have business cards available so you can share your contact information with others quickly. This may seem obvious but you will be surprised how often I go to networking events with people who do not have business cards or did not bring enough cards. So make sure you have plenty of cards on hand. Someone is more likely to hang on to your contact information if it is on a business card rather than a scratch piece of paper.
Have an elevator pitch!
Conferences are great for connecting with other like-minded people in your network or industry. When introducing yourself, be sure to smile, make eye contact and render a firm handshake while stating your name and what you do. There is nothing more awkward than meeting new people and not being able to explain who you are or what it is that you do. So be prepared by practicing your elevator pitch ahead of time. Practice your elevator pitch, whether you’re an employee, entrepreneur, or both. I cannot stress this part enough, BE PREPARED, there is nothing like flopping and ruining an opportunity to shine in the face of influential power players in your industry. Practice your elevator pitch, try to keep it short and to the point in 2-3 sentences.
After the conference, within a few days be sure to follow up with everyone that you connected with. You don’t want to let too much time pass before reconnecting, especially if someone has job leads or potential clients for you. Send a friendly personalized follow up email or leave a message for them at work letting them know you enjoyed meeting them and you are interested in seeing how to further your relationship or explore business opportunities.
These awesome tips have helped me in the past and I am sure these will also help me tremendously at my conference this weekend. When you are at an event or conference with power movers or other entHERpreneur like yourself capitalize on the opportunities the space provides to network and take your business or career to the next level.