Attending any conference is an investment. Whether you purchased your ticket, are invited as a guest, the event is open to the public, or you’re getting $$$ for creating content for business partners – you are making an investment of your precious time. To get the most out of it, you need a plan!
First, what’s your objective for attending? Identify your top reason for going so you can prioritize that element of the event in your conference plan.
If you love the event schedule and agenda, you’ll build your plan around the sessions. If you want to connect with the sponsoring brands, you’ll focus on the expo and brand events. If you want to network, you’ll focus on opportunities to meet people.
The organizers provide the core ingredients of the conference – agenda, sponsors and networking. It’s up to you to mix your own recipe.
Here are 3 tips for building your plan.
Even though you will prioritize one element based on your top reason for going, make sure to participate in everything offered, even just a little, and set a mini-objective for yourself. For example, if you are most interested in the agenda, and plan to park yourself in the sessions most of the time, a simple mini-objective for the expo might be to learn about one sponsor in detail to share with your audience. If connecting with brands is your jam, set a networking intention to meet 3 new people by the end of the day and make sure that some are fellow attendees. You can knock that one off by simply sitting down at lunch or a break with people you don’t know.
Give yourself downtime during the day to process and assimilate, create any on-site content you want to post, make notes about how you intend to apply what you’ve learned or follow-up with the people you’ve met. 10 minutes here and there during the day can be far more productive than an hour at the end. When you are tired and your feet hurt
Book meetings in advance where you can! If you want to be sure to connect with someone – whether a brand rep, fellow attendee or someone on the #BlogHer team – you should schedule time and place in advance. If you want to meet with an influencer or entrepreneur speaking at the event, aim for a time AFTER her session, not before. Attend their session so you can speak to their content when you do meet. It may take a bit of work to connect with speakers at the event, so be prepared that not everyone will have the time to chat on site. I can guarantee you, however, that your chances are much better if you lay the groundwork beforehand, ready to network as they come off the stage.
When I am building my plan for a conference, I start by identifying the brand events and sessions I absolutely want to attend and block off that time. Then I set up my meetings. The remaining time goes to browsing the expo, networking and downtime.
Final tip – write the plan down. Make it your schedule for the day. When you are done, you’ll still be tired and your feet will still hurt, but you will enjoy that feeling of accomplishment of a day well spent.
PS – I will be at #BlogHer20 Health in LA on Feb 1. Hope to see you there and delighted to set a meeting in advance as my schedule allows!