How to Get the Most Out of Professional Conferences
March 20, 2018
Professional conferences are an exciting way to gain new knowledge about your field, share the knowledge you already have, and build your professional network. With so many ways to use conference attendance to advance your career, having an understanding of how to get the most out of a professional conference is key to avoiding information fatigue. In preparation for our upcoming Hero Conf Austin 2018, the world’s largest all-PPC conference taking place in April 16-18, I’ve compiled a list of the ways I ensure I get the most out of the professional events I attend.
Prepare In Advance
Share Your Knowledge
Most conferences accept open speaker pitches from individual professionals in the industry. A great way to gain visibility (or get a free pass!) is to submit speaker pitches for multiple conferences throughout the year. This can be a daunting prospect, but putting yourself out there has several advantages. You’ll increase your exposure, network with other professionals in your industry, and learn that you know much more than you think about your field. Some conferences have volunteer opportunities as well, which are a good way to dip your toes in the water if you’re feeling hesitant about putting yourself out there.
Do Your Research
Review the conference agenda well in advance of the event. By doing this you can learn which sessions are of interests for you, as well as which key experts in your field will be there. Look for the names you know, and identify the names of those you want to know. Researching the “who” and “what” ahead of time will help prepare you for the networking you will do at the event itself. Determine the goals you hope to meet by attending the conference, and identify how you plan to achieve them when you’re there.
Follow the relevant hashtags for the conference leading up to the event, and check out fellow attendees’ social media profiles to get connected early. This is a good way to find out what other people are talking about surrounding the conference, as conference hashtags are generally utilized leading up to and during the event. Find the people you already know and reconnect in advance, so you can go in on strong networking footing. If there are apps for registration and check-in, be sure you have downloaded these ahead of time as well.
At the Event
Get Acquainted with the Venue
Many conferences will hold orientation sessions for new attendees; be sure to get oriented with the venue and the conference structure early, because the hustle and bustle on the primary session days can overwhelm if you aren’t sure where you’re going. Organize your schedule with your own agenda before heading to any sessions. Also, be sure to schedule the “where” and “when” for time to yourself – to reflect and decompress – after sessions and before any schmoozing.
Choose Actionable Sessions
You prepared in advance and determined your goals for the conference. When you choose which sessions to attend, choosing actionable sessions can help you in several ways. If your company is paying for you to go to the conference, it is likely that you will need to justify the expense by providing actionable takeaways to implement upon returning. Even if it is your own dollars spent, you’ll want to utilize your time as a sort of individual training session to benefit your current role. Conferences are costly, and there is no need to feel as though you’ve wasted your time or your dollars in attending.
Participate in the Discussion
Whether it is raising your hand to speak up in a small workshop session, or participating in a social media conversation on a conference topic, being part of the greater discussion is another great way to maximize your exposure and stay active as a conference attendee. You are there to learn not only from the panelists and speakers, but also from your peers in attendance with you. Don’t be afraid to exchange business cards with those unfamiliar attendees who caught your attention during these discussions. I suggest setting a minimum number of people to introduce yourself to per day, and holding yourself to it.
Landing Back Home
Organize Your Takeaways
You’ve likely taken notes, exchanged business cards, and brainstormed plans for implementing what you’ve learned in your career moving forward. Following the conference, take some time to organize everything you’ve gleaned. I like to do a wrap-up “journal” after I attend professional events, as this gives me a sort of narrative way of organizing my thoughts and getting them all down in one place.
Use the business cards you received and the new social media connections you made and plan a follow up for each point of contact. Depending on the goals you identified for yourself in advance of the conference, these follow-ups may entail sharing, collaborating, or forming business partnerships. Whatever the reason for establishing contact, don’t wait too long to fortify any meaningful connections your made with your fellow attendees.
Teach What You Learned
To demonstrate the actionable takeaways from the sessions you chose to attend, plan to tangibly share what you learned with the rest of your teammates. Form a post-conference discussion with your colleagues who were also in attendance, or present session highlights to the members of your team who stayed at the office while you were away. Showing how the information you learned is useful to your company or career growth is a critical part of ensuring you got the best bang for your buck.
While conferences may be trendy in the current professional zeitgeist, they have plenty to offer you in your career development if you utilize them wisely. Understanding ways to get the most out of your conference ticket can ensure that you’ll have the opportunity to learn and grow from events in the future.
Browse By Category
4 Tips on Generating Leads for SaaS Clients
SaaS clients have a stereotype of moving really fast and want quick results. Here are 4 of my top tips on how to generate paid search leads through AdWords.
Why You Should Be Using Facebook Canvas Ads
Explore four reasons why you should test canvas ads on Facebook.
The Future of Ad Copy in an AI World
In this webinar, AdFury’s Christopher Hoover and Hanapin’s Lauren Rosner will discuss the hot topic of AI and what the future could look like when automation becomes more and more popular in our industry – the good, the bad, and the challenging.
A bi-weekly newsletter packed full of resources and strategies that will help make you a better PPC expert.
Hanapin Marketing | The PPC Agency of Experts Behind PPC Hero
Reasons to Not Use an Automated PPC Bidding Strategy
There are so many situations when it is a good idea to test out PPC Bidding Strategies on campaigns. In this article, we are going to discuss different reasons why you might want to avoid using automated bid strategies.
Take the 2018 State of PPC Survey!
We're looking for marketers to take our State of PPC survey! The survey takes about 5 minutes to complete and establishes benchmarks, identify trends, and helps marketers around the world understand what's working and what's not in PPC.
How To Avoid Overlap Between Multiple Similar PPC Accounts
Get tips on how to avoid overlap between multiple similar PPC accounts and start becoming more effective at running ads for multiple or related brands.