Conferences have been a huge part of my personal development. From the people I’ve met to the things that I’ve learned, to the networking nights that ended with raucous celebrations on the dance floor, I’ve had some great experiences to be sure!
But aside from the frivolity, a conference can be an overwhelming, difficult beast to navigate. With that in mind, I thought I’d share 3 ideas to help you get the most out of your time there. These are just a few things that popped into my brain this morning, what tips do you have?
Explore the Unknown
When I talk to people about their conference plans, often times I hear people talking about attending “every single session on leadership development”, or whatever specific field they are interested in.
- Don’t do that. Yes, get in there and fill your bucket, but remember – these conferences are long! By the 4th session on that topic there is a good chance you might start feeling a little bit of “been there, done that”. Be selective and pick the 2-3 that really resonate with you and round yourself out with sessions on other topics.
- Find a session that has absolutely nothing to do with the work you are currently doing. Some of the best learning experiences I’ve had have come from sessions where I found ways to apply concepts from different fields (improv! – thank you Held2gether!), or other times it was just inspiration watching a great speaker rock at their craft!
Content then Connection
Enjoy the learning opportunities during the day, but really give yourself an opportunity to expand your personal network and connect with some of the great people that attend these conferences. Organized “meet-to-eats” are an easy way to find yourself involved in great conversation with interesting new friends from around the world, and the ideas and resources they could expose you to could be game-changing! Some of the best things that have happened to me professionally have come from these connections.
Connection, then Reflection
These conferences are exercises in cognitive overload. Take a break. Skip a session. I find it very valuable to carve out time by myself at the end of the day to sit, review my notes, and reflect on the days learnings. It is usually in that space where the “aha!” moments happen and I find a way to connect the dots back to my work.
Those are my thoughts. And finally, and perhaps most importantly for any conference….now is not the time to break in new shoes!!! You do a TON of walking at conferences (especially in Vegas), do yourself a huge favor and wear something comfortable.