Before the conference you should try to take some time to create a plan and take the following into account:
- Does the conference provide videos of the sessions? If yes, this can help you to choose the sessions you really want to see live, all others you can simply view later from the comfort of your home.
- Which extra events do you want to take part in? (Networking events, dinners, concerts,…) Make sure to put them in your agenda and don’t forget to calculate time for getting to the venues. Nothing is less fun then finally arriving when the event is almost finished.
- Who do you want to meet up with? Make sure to set up those meetings beforehand!
- Plan for at least one decent meal a day to give your body some needed energy and your mind some rest. You can always invite somebody to join you if you don’t feel like eating alone.
Don’t forget the hallway track
A lot of conferences have different tracks (Summit has 7 tracks this year), but the most important one is the “Hallway Track”. I’ve learned more by having hallway conversations and meeting people by accident than by following sessions. It’s also a great way to network and meet up with old friends.
You can always watch a session video afterwards but you cannot replace those missed hallway conversations.
Visit the sponsors
Thanks to sponsors, conferences can keep ticket prices low and do the crazy things we all love – like movies, concerts, and so on. So take some time to talk to them and you might get some cool swag and some interesting information in return.
And of course you can always go and thank them for building the tools you use and love.
Take care of yourself
Conferences can be exhausting: running from one session to another, grabbing a quick snack in between, going to late night events and sleeping too little.
Be sure to still take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Take a regular break, take time to have at least one proper meal everyday. Make sure you get enough sleep before or during the conference.
Enjoy the evenings
Conferences don’t stop after the final session of the day. There will be many opportunities to network, dinners and other events. Be sure to go to as much of these as possible and use to meet new people. These are the perfect networking events and can help you relax after a long conference day.
Make sure to share them in the comments, ping me on twitter: @pvdevoor. Or simply tell them to me personally when you see me at a conference.