Maximizing Your Conference Experience

A great advantage to a career in the events industry is that we host some of the best conferences around! Experienced and novice professionals alike enjoy top-quality events with a wide variety of educational experiences and networking opportunities. We know that continuing education is key to keeping your skills sharp and your business relevant, and industry conferences are one-stop shopping extravaganzas for everything your company needs to be successful.

Attending these events requires a pretty significant investment in time and money, and sometimes in travel, so planning ahead to get the most out of your next one is wise.  Here are some tips to help you prepare to maximize your next conference experience.

The Catersource 2018 mobile app is available in your app store.

Read the pre-show details

Most show managers populate their websites early with details about the itinerary, layout and optional activities. Often conferences include some sessions that are open to any participant and others that require pre-registration or a separate ticket. Look through everything and make a plan for what you must see, what would be nice to see, and what is worth missing if something else would better take its place. Then create a schedule that you can follow based on your priorities. Don’t wing it when you arrive as you might miss out on something really beneficial.

Networking attendees at Catersource's 2017 Welcome Reception 

Embrace conference hacks

There are several life hacks for conferences that you can use to make sure you’re comfortable, energized and prepared for anything. Always wear comfortable shoes and bring several adhesive bandages. You may have to do a lot of walking, and blisters will slow you down. Check your supply of business cards before you leave home; there is nothing worse than discovering too late that you forgot to bring them. As you meet new people, write something on their business cards that will remind you later of your encounter. Bring a notebook and a pen so you can jot down notes during interesting sessions, and always keep a refillable water bottle with you so you can keep hydrated. Failing to tend to your basic needs often leads to illness while traveling, and lying sick in bed is a terrible use of your time and money.

Attandees getting ready for a session at Catersource 2017. 

Take advantage of every opportunity

Consider each hour you are at the conference premium time to advance your business through education, networking or exposure. You can’t be at two sessions at once, but you can be sure not to skip activities. Also, attend all of the “other” functions like the welcome cocktail reception, breakouts and the closing session. Walk the tradeshow floor and meet as many of the exhibitors as you can. It may be tempting to sleep in through a breakfast, or cut out for an afternoon and do some shopping, but remember that you invested time and money in attending the conference. There will be time for rest and relaxation when you get home.

The best part about a great conference or tradeshow is that energized, optimistic feeling you have as you leave. Follow these tips, and you’ll leave your next show full of new ideas, inspiration, and confidence in the fact that your time and money were well spent.

See Kevin Dennis at Catersource 2018! Click here to view a description of his session. Click on the logo below for a full conference overview.

Kevin Dennis

 

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.