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How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

https://hbr.org/2015/07/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-a-conference

hbr.org

How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
Conferences are an overwhelming rush of presentations, conversations, and potential meet-ups, and it can be tough to know where to focus your time. How do you figure out which sessions to attend? Should you skip the keynote to meet an important contact? How many coffee dates are too many?

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Attending conferences

Attending conferences
Conferences are overwhelming:  the rush of presentations, conversations, and potential meet-ups, and it can make it tough for you if you want to find focus.

But skipping them isn't the best solution: you’re missing out on the benefits of networking.

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Change your mindset

Change your mindset

See networking from a different perspective: You’re not just networking because you should; you’re doing it because it’s good for your career.

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Pre-introduce yourself

Pre-introduce yourself

Think about the people you would like to get to know and then carve out time to accomplish that goal:

  • A few before the conference, make a 'priority wish list' of people you’d like to meet. 
  • Send those people an email introducing yourself and asking to meet; if possible, get an introduction from a mutual friend or colleague.

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Be strategic with your time

Be strategic with your time

When choosing which sessions to attend, consider this:

  • A session should fulfill either a content goal (should be educational) or
  • It should fulfill an interpersonal goal (you want to meet or support the person who is presenting).

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Talk less, listen more

Talk less, listen more
  • Ask people to introduce themselves. Think of commonalities among group members and highlight those when you’re making introductions.
  • Ask thoughtful questions and listen carefully to how others respond. 
  • Having conversation starters at the ready can make small talk more palatable.

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Get the most out of a conference

Do:

  • Focus on how networking is good for your career
  • When choosing a sessions, consider whether you’ll learn something or meet someone new
  • Create networking situations where you feel comfortable.

Don’t:

  • Spend all of your time with coworkers you see every day.
  • Burn out. Give yourself time to rest and rejuvenate during the conference
  • Try to be someone you’re not.

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