Anytime you go on vacation, it is essential to be packed and have a plan. It is even more critical when attending an industry conference. The prep work you do ahead of time can be the difference between having a successful trip or having just a meh trip.
1. Pack Correctly
What’s the weather where you are traveling? Will you still want to fit in your morning run? Does the conference have a formal night?
These are all important questions to ask when you are packing for your conference! Make sure to always bring business cards, a sweater, and the right shoes (this is not the time to break-in shiny new shoes). These are your key to survival during the hectic days and night! Check out our packing checklist HERE to make sure you have everything you need! Jessica Hixson, Director of Recruiting said "The first thing that goes in my luggage is a steamer, I have been burned too many times (pun intended) by those hotel room irons. It’s hard to walk into a conference room full of peers with confidence a wrinkled mess!"
2. Set Meetings
Know who else attends industry events? Customers, vendors, and peers. You can use this to your advantage to finally have everybody in the same place. Does it make sense for you to host a Happy Hour on behalf of your company? Are you able to plan some face time with your largest vendor, so you get to know your contact better? All of these questions are huge for you to answer well in advance of your trip! One of your main goals should be to mingle with existing and future clients. Bring back tidbits that allow you to follow-up at a relatable level to drive new/further business and client relationships.
3. Review the Floor
Is there a product or software you’ve been eyeing? This is an excellent opportunity to geek out and to test it out in person. Even if you aren’t the final decision maker on the tools your company invests in, be the person who brings back the data that might sell the ‘Why’ to the one who is. Don’t be afraid to send an email out to the individual(s) at your company in charge of new software/products and ask them what you should be on the lookout for, or if they want you to meet with anyone on their behalf.
4. Pick your Sessions
Before you attend an industry conference, spend time looking at the schedule. This piece can be very overwhelming if you don’t pre-plan, a lot of times there are so many things going on at once and in different locations, it would be a shame to miss that one talk you just knew was going change your life. Make sure you have a rough outline of what seminars, lectures, and work sessions you plan on taking part in. This will help you maximize your time, pack more efficiently, and plan regular work around your conference schedule.
5. Plan your Evening
Most industry events plan social events in the evening. This is a more casual way to meet the other participants and get some networking in. While industry events plan large gatherings reach out to your contact list and see what other nighttime activities are going on you should attend, often vendors will throw more private events for their clients or prospective clients. These are great to make an appearance if you are looking to get some more one on one time in with particular folks.
No matter what you do when you attend an industry conference always remember to bring more business cards than you think you need, be ready to wear a constant smile and shake lots of new individuals’ hands (sanitizer a must). The most important thing though is to comeback with a piece of knowledge to share with your team!