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5 Tips to Attend a Conference Like a Pro

By vburley
Nov. 7, 2018

This week we're wheels up for Acquia Engage, where the foremost leaders in digital will take center stage to share their insights, revelations, and lessons learned in the quest to deliver best-in-class customer experiences. We're excited to be sponsoring the event again this year and can't wait to learn, share, meet and discuss with our peers and partners! 

With the opening reception kicking things off tonight and the conference getting into full swing tomorrow, we thought we'd put together some quick tips for getting the most out of any conference you're attending.

1. Scope out the venue

Take a bit of time to check out the venue and conference structure early, before the hustle and bustle of the main session days. Look at the schedule and pick out sessions you want to attend and note the locations. Depending on the size of the event, it can be overwhelming if you're not sure where you're going. 

2. Get there early, and sit up front

You're there to get the most out of the sessions that are being presented, so don't hide in the back! Find your spot in the first few rows to really engage with the speaker, learn more, avoid distractions from the rest of the audience, actually be able to see the slides and be seen by the speaker when you ask questions. 

3. Break the Ice 

This can be a hard one for introverts, but remember that most people are there to network, talk and meet new people. Have some questions in mind to break the ice and get the ball rolling:

- What did you think of the keynote?

or

- What's been your favourite session so far?

Not only can panels and speakers teach you new tips and tricks for your business, but it's a fantastic way to make new contacts and exchange key information with influential people you've never met before.

4. Optimize the Value

You're there to learn from industry experts sharing their insights and advice. Collect as much useful information, stats and tips to share with your team when you return to really multiply the value of those who attended. This might not always be from the sessions- sessions can be great, but they're a one-directional experience where you're a recipient more than a participant. Talk directly with interesting people who share your interests, who can teach you things, share insider stories and possibly form new friendships. Don't forget your business cards, (YES they're still a thing and continue to live on!) a powerful too and a still an important way to market yourself.

---> PRO TIP: When you get back to the office after an event with a pocket full of jumbled business cards, it's hard to remember who the cards belong to and how you connected. Take a few quick seconds to scribble on the back of the card something you talked about or a note about that person. A few words can easily jog your memory when following up post-event so you never miss an opportunity to make a valuable business connection. 

5. Have FUN!

Conferences are an overwhelming rush of presentations, conversations and potential meetings, and it can be difficult to know where to focus your time, but remember to have some fun while you're there! They often give you a chance to see a different part of the world or a city you've never been to. Don’t waste it.

Take advantage of being there for work and see if you can add some play! Stay an extra night or take a short road trip. The whole idea of going to an event is to give you fresh perspectives and new ideas, and some of that can best happen outside of the event itself. (If you're in Austin for Engage, explore the stunning outdoors or the countless music venues that string together the Live Music Capital of the World!)

Follow us on Twitter @Appnovation for updates from Acquia Engage 2018 and stay tuned for a wrap up blog post after the event!