There’s so much going on at a trade show, that it can be hard to stay focused on your reasons for being there. Avoid that problem by remembering these 10 ways to get the most out of a trade show or conference.
When you attend a conference related to your area of expertise, you will get opportunities to communicate with nationally known leaders of your profession–colleagues you recognize by reputation and through their articles and books. How do you get the most out of the conference, to strengthen your job performance permanently? I can respond to that question, because for twenty-two years I attended conferences as a participant, and for the last eight years I have attended as a speaker and seminar leader. From my perspective of thirty years at conferences, I share these suggestions for maximizing your attendance:
One: Read the conference agenda thoroughly, and select the sessions that will be most likely to improve your skills. Stay away from the seminars you could almost teach yourself, and “stretch” by hearing about topics you have not mastered.
Two: Ask a professional colleague to become your conference buddy, so you can share what you learn. This collaboration will bring special benefits when you talk about presentations that only one of you attended.
Three: Stay for the entire conference. You never know what good information you might miss by arriving late or leaving early.
Four: Stay at the conference’s designated hotel. You need to be where you can enlarge your network most effectively.
Five: When you attend conference parties, realize that potential employers, clients or business partners might observe your behavior. You are not really “off duty.”
Six: Take plenty of business cards, to help new acquaintances remember you.
Seven: Tactfully collect as many business cards as you can, so you can follow up with post cards, E-mails, phone calls and appointments.
Eight: Buy the tapes and audio CDs recorded during the sessions. Do this even for the seminars you attend, to reinforce your learning.
Nine: Become an active participant, asking questions and making comments. The topics will take on new life for you.
Ten: Meet and thank everyone who served on the conference planning committee. They deserve your compliments. And when you thank them, you will definitely stand out as one of the few who did.
My closing recommendation: Recently, have you approved conference attendance for some of your employees? Then give them this “Top Ten” list, and meet with them for a recap the first week after the conference.