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Getting the Most Out of Your Time at a Conference

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 1:17pm -- jen@jvillagenetwork

The joint NATA-NAASE conference is right around the corner! We are gearing up to go on the road and hope you are, too. But, before you pack your bags, we recommend having a strategy in place to make the most of your time. Live events - like conferences, provide an amazing opportunity for you to connect with like-minded colleagues, sharpen your skills, and gain new insights into how you can make your organization thrive.

Our 5 effective strategies are designed to help you maximize your experience.

1. Review the Agenda Before You Go:

Decide what you’d like to learn at the conference ahead of time. Really consider why you are going and what you hope to get out of the conference. Use those answers to devise a plan of action that is focused on achieving those goals. Being strategic and deliberate with your time is key.

Preparing for Conferences


2. Connect with Others:

It can be hard to connect with new people and for most of us, it’s much easier to hang in the back and scroll through our Instagram feed. But, networking with other like-minded professionals is one of the key reasons to attend a conference. To get a conversation started, simply walk up to someone and begin with a friendly “May I join you?” Follow up with broad questions like “What brings you to this event?” or “What’s been the most intriguing piece of knowledge you’ve gained so far?” Yes or no questions stop the flow of conversation. Think of good questions ahead of time and don’t be afraid to reach out to someone new.

Ladies shaking hands


3. Determine the Key Takeaway:

After every seminar, lecture, and presentation, take a moment to ask yourself, what did I learn? What’s the one piece of information that most deeply resonated with me? Why? Perhaps there was a tip that you could bring to your own community. Write it down and think about how you can share it with your community back home. 


4. Prepare for Post-Conference Follow Up:

Just as you have a plan for attending conferences, create a strategic post-conference plan of action. Always consider what will be of value to your staff and volunteers back at home. Think about how will you share this new information with them - whether it be in a meeting, email, or PowerPoint presentation. Take the time to circle back and review your initial pre-conference goals. Have you learned any new ideas that can help you achieve these goals? Work with others to strategically and creatively, problem-solve with an eye on the future. 

Making the most out of your time at a conference


5. Build Lasting Relationships:

Attending a conference isn’t just about exchanging business cards and connecting on Linkedin. Networking is most valuable when long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are formed. Within a week of returning from the event, consider sending a personal email to the key people who you met. Let them know how much you enjoyed meeting them. Relationships take time and patience to build. Don’t rush the connection.

build lasting relationships at conferences


Conferences present a great opportunity to step outside of your day to day routine and learn more about what's happening in your field with like-minded professionals. We look forward to seeing you on the road.


P.S. If you are planning on heading to NATA/NAASE, be sure to stop by our booth & say hello.


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