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Your 2020 Conference Season Prep List

Your tickets are purchased, travel and accommodations booked, and you’ve got your conference plans for 2020 — but, this year, you want to truly make the most of the days spent away from your business. Conferences bring together the two most invaluable factors in growing a business: education and networking. You can bring home both unforgettable lessons and a host of connections to expand your network.

However, in order to win the conference game and come home feeling successful, you need to go into each experience with a game plan. Read on for the best strategies for pre- and post-conference strategies that will enhance your experiences.

Get your business into gear

Attending a conference is an invaluable experience and can lead to a lot of growth and development; however, it does mean leaving your business behind for a few days. It can feel stressful to put your business on the backburner, especially if you’re a solopreneur. Having a reliable team takes some of the load off, as you can trust them and train them to operate everything in your absence.

Catersource 2020, co-located with The Special Event, is coming up soon! Click here for more information or to register!

If you are a solopreneur, do what you can to automate certain tasks and plan to work ahead the week or two leading up to the conference. Sure, you can knock out some tasks onsite during lunch or at the end of the day — but you don’t want to miss out on all a conference has to offer because you have to sit in your room on the computer.

Do your research and plan ahead

Going into a conference with a game plan makes all the difference in how much you gain from the experience. If you show up on day one with no clue who is speaking or where you need to go, you’ll waste half of your time getting situated and miss out on many learning opportunities.

Take the time to review the list of speakers, the schedule, the venue layout, and the topics you particularly want to see. Create a framework of your schedule while there, understanding that it should still be flexible and adaptable as new opportunities arise.

Prioritize face time

There is no better place for networking than at an industry conference — you can connect with everyone from the expert bigwigs giving the keynote to the fresh startup solopreneurs who are attending for the first time. Outside of educational sessions, make time to meet, greet, and exchange business cards with other attendees.

In advance of the conference, take a moment to jot down the names of people you must meet while there. If they’re speakers, be sure to sit in on their sessions and camp out afterwards to say hello. Consider using social media to find out others who are coming; it can help to connect with other attendees beforehand and meet up onsite for a coffee or to sit in a session together.

Follow up diligently

The conference might be over after the final keynote or the last night’s happy hour, but it’s up to you to extend the value into the days and weeks after the event. There’s a good chance that you’ll leave with a handful of business cards, so now’s your time to continue the conversation with everyone you met.

Once you return home, take some time to reach out to those connections you made and follow them on social media. The sooner you do this, the fresher the experience will be in their minds. Over time, your conference connections will develop a diverse network of industry professionals that can support you and your business in countless ways.

With these tips guiding your conference mindset, you can ensure that you’ll make the most of your time onsite and come home feeling refreshed, energized, and motivated in life and in business.

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.