Tips: A Beginner’s Guide to Attending Conferences

If you’re planning to attend a conference soon, there’s a lot to do to prepare. You may be asking yourself: What should I wear? What’s going to happen? Who do I talk to? While these are important questions to ask, the last thing you should be worrying about is what you plan to wear. That is why we have compiled some points to help you navigate your first conference experience.

The preparation doesn’t end with registering and booking your travel. There are plenty of things to do in the weeks leading up to attending a professional conference. The investment of time, travel and energy required to go to a conference makes it more important to be prepared before you go. These six tips by will help you organize yourself so you can ensure you’re walking into the conference fully prepared.

Develop an Elevator Pitch
You’re going to meet a lot of people in a short period of time, so being able to introduce yourself in 30 seconds or less will make the process easier and allow you to meet as many people as possible. Write down the essential points you want to get across, and practice speaking them out loud until it becomes second nature.

Network in Advance
Most conferences have a hashtag for attendees and speakers to use when talking about the event online. Use the hashtag in a post to announce that you have registered for the event, and search the hashtag to see what others are already talking about. Jump in on conversations on Twitter and make connections before the conference even starts. Discuss session topics, things to do in the host city or make plans to meet up in person.

Update your Social Profiles
Expect to receive a number of connection requests when you log into your social media accounts during or even after the conference. Before you head off to the event, update your social media profile information, especially if you’re looking for a new job opportunity. Upload a recent picture to all of your accounts, so other attendees know they’re clicking on the right profile.

Stock up on Business Cards
Whether you have them from your workplace or you create personalized cards of your own, make sure you have a stack of business cards ready to go. If you’re making your own, be sure to have your name, title and contact information on it. Give yourself at least two weeks before the conference to order new cards.

Pack your Power Source & Pens
It’s important to be prepared for any type of room setup. For those who prefer to take notes on a laptop or tablet, start the day with a fully charged battery and don’t forget to carry your charger with you. If you favor the paper and pen approach, remember that you may not always have a table to lean on and should pack something with a hard surface as a backup.

Plan your Wardrobe
Planning your wardrobe is more important than you think. Whether we want to admit it or not, what you wear speaks volumes about you professionally. Business casual is generally your best option for the conference but pay attention to the social events that will take place and bring different clothing options that will meet both casual and formal events. You’ll want to make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes because you’ll be walking around the venue between sessions and standing during networking opportunities. Conference venues can sometimes be cold, so even if the conference is in mid-summer, take a blazer or sweater to be safe.

Conferences are a great way to build your social and professional network along with improving your communication skills. By taking these simple steps to prepare for your conference, you should be set for a successful and productive professional experience.