With the spring comes a series of conferences, many in person again. When we talk about the great resignation and the idea that people are swirling quite a bit right now, it has me thinking — what are some of the great conference tips that I have been shared with me.
I hope as you have new members of your team, or maybe you’re an army of one at a conference, you can use these tips to make the most of your conference experience.
Four Tips to Maximize Your Conference
Master the Small Talk — Before I go to any conference, I spend some time thinking about small talk. I’ve heard of FORD to help guide conversation. If that’s new to you: friends, occupation, recreation, and dreams. That’s great, but there are moments I find it awkward — for causally meeting someone. Instead, I prefer to have a couple of different “about me” messages that can work for different people I’m talking with. I also like to have 3-4 questions that I can ask if I’m in a conversation with someone. I try to go with things that are fairly open ended, for example “How is work treating you?” or “What are your big picture objectives this year?”
Take the Time to Freshen Up — If you’re going to dinner or going to a night event, be sure to head back to your room for a few. Especially if you’re an introvert, that few minutes to recharge is so critical. I also like to change my outfit. It’s not a sense of I want something else to wear, but it’s more that I feel better when I’ve had a moment to touch up my hair and makeup and put on something fresh. It helps me to go back out to network with renewed energy.
Find Friends Beforehand — Are there people on social media you know will be there? Is there someone who does a great job in the work you’re doing? Does your boss have any suggestions of who you should connect with? Reach out to those folks ahead of time and schedule loose times to connect. That will give you people to look for at networking events, coffee conversations to have, and help you find several friendly faces at the conference.
Take Notes on Your Conversations — I always pack a journal (though now I do it on my iPad) and write down notes for future follow up. If I have a great conversation with someone, I’ll put it in my notebook and follow up after the conference. It helps me to build more genuine conversations that last over time, as opposed to a quick meeting at the conference. Another tip I’ve seen is to collect a business card and write this information on the back of the card. I think either way works. The bottom line is it’s important to keep the conversation flowing.
Hopefully those tips get you ready for a great conference. So pack your business cards, a sweater (session rooms can be freezing), and several outfits. Have a great conference!