8 Ways To Improve Your Conference Experience

One of the best ways that I’ve found to experience exponential growth is through attending conferences and workshops. There, you are able to hear from thought leaders in your areas of interest.

Listening and seeing the speakers are only one part of the experience. And probably the least productive way to grow.

Have a better conference experience

Image by Jim Lupack

My personal experience has been that there’s only so much I can take in from long sessions of speakers. Eventually, those speaking seem to drone on or say the same things.

Not that this isn’t good content. My attention can only be held for so long.

Then I need something more. I crave interactions. That doesn’t come from listening to speakers.

There’s more to getting more out of attending a conference than speaking. The next time you go to a conference, try the following:

Ways To Improve Your Conference Experience

1. Create a list of influential people you want to meet: Conferences bring out the biggest and brightest speakers. They also bring out people who are interested in growing and becoming the best in their fields.

Many of these people aren’t on the stage. They’re in the crowd.

Just like you.

Before the conference, hop on social media and see if you can find any other influencers who are going to be attending. Add 3-5 of these people to your list of “Must-meet” people at the conference.

Reach out to them beforehand and try to put something together.

2. Host an influencers meetup: I’ve attended the last 5 Catalyst Atlanta Leadership Conferences. The last 2 years, I’ve done something I’d never done before.

I partnered with leadership expert Paul Sohn and hosted the Catalyst Blogger Meetup. And I’m partnering with him for this year’s Catalyst blogger meetup.

Neither Paul nor I are from the Atlanta area. That didn’t matter.

We were still able to secure a venue, have publishers send us great swag, and get 20+ people to attend the meetups.

During these meetups, attendees were able to rub shoulders with Paul, myself, Barnabas Piper, Chester Goad, and other influential leaders.

Don’t let the fact that you’re not from the area hold you back. You can still host a meetup.

3. Hang out in the hallways: Listening to the creative speakers that a conference brings in can be overwhelming. You almost feel like you’re being hit by a firehose of content.

Others are feeling the same way. Some of those are stepping out of the main conference area and hanging out in the hallways.

You don’t have to stay in the auditorium. You can slip out and meet those who are in the hallways.

You’ll never know who you’ll meet.

4. Go by yourself: When we attend conferences with those we know, we tend to stick with those people.

It’s much harder to branch out and meet new people when you’re in a group you’re comfortable with. This can be a problem.

One of the best things about conferences is the opportunity to meet new people.

Go to the conference by yourself. If that’s not a possibility, be willing to step away from the people you went with the talk with strangers.

5. Get off your phone: Phones are a great technology that allows us to stay connected with others. You can take notes with them. You can even record sessions to listen to again

They’re also a great way to ignore others.

Tuck your phone away. Stick it in your pocket or in your briefcase. Leave it with the rest of your stuff at Left Luggage Euston Station.

Pull out a physical pad of paper. Take out that fancy pen. Use your these tools to take notes.

Not only will this free you up to think through what you’re taking notes on, you will look more engaged.

6. Find an after-party: Much like hosting your own meetup to interact with conference attendees, you can search for an after-party that’s happening.

This frees you up to be an attendee rather than a host.

You can feel free to mingle and go through the crowd of others who joined the event.

It’s a great time to engage in conversations and find others who you can help.

7. Talk about what you’ve learned with others: While I may recommend going to a conference by yourself, I know that’s not always a possibility. Sometimes you have to go with a group.

If you do, that’s the perfect opportunity to share what you’ve learned with others.

Bounce your takeaways off of one another. See what your teammates learned that you may have missed. Then share what you learned and help them with what they missed.

8. Review your notes: Last, but certainly not least, review your notes.

You took them for a reason. Because you wanted to remember what was said.

Too often we throw our notes into a jumbled pile of notebooks, never to see the light of day again.

Don’t fall into that trap. Be ready to review your notes when you return home. Then review again 3-6 months down the road.

You’ll be amazed at how much content you’ve forgotten in that short period of time. Don’t let it go to waste.

Speaking of making the most out of attending conferences, will I see you at Catalyst Atlanta October 5-7th? It’s taking place in Atlanta and you won’t walk away disappointed.

If you’re planning on going and haven’t purchased your ticket, don’t miss your chance to get an ADDITIONAL 25% off. Go HERE to get your special pricing.

Question: How are you making the most out of your conference experiences? Share your tips in the comment section below.
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