Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How to Prepare for a Conference

By Dr. Will Deyamport, III

I attended my first conference in 2000. It was a conference organized by AmeriCorps for new members. I was nervous, excited, and thrilled to be going to a place with other people who shared my commitment to making our communities better. Since then I have attended a few more conferences and presented at more than one of them. Here are my tips for preparing for a conference and getting the most out of your experience.
Be Choosy with Your Sessions
Don’t even try to make every session that peaks your interest at the conference. Start with your must-haves. Those are the sessions that are directly related to the work you are doing, specifically those sessions that align with your areas of expertise. Next choose the sessions that spark your creative interest, but don’t get carried away and overbook yourself. You don’t want to rush from session to session. Finally, give yourself time to relax and network. That means giving yourself gaps of free time in the day. You want to enjoy the experience, and you won’t if you feel like you are dragging yourself around.
The tech you can’t leave home without for a conference is a digital camera for higher resolution pictures, a digital video camera, if you intend to interview people or plan to record the presentations you attend –including your own – , and your smartphone, laptop or tablet. You could bring a jump drive, but with cloud-based systems like Google Drive, you don’t need to.
Now you may be thinking that you could do everything with a smartphone, and to some degree you could. But if you want high quality pictures to print or share across multiple platforms or shoot high quality video, especially if you want to edit the video, you are going to need cameras that offer more than 8 megapixels.  Yeah, I know that’s a lot to carry around with you, but a conference usually lasts three days. You can do it.
Pack clothes that are professional, weather appropriate and that travel well. No, you are not at work, but you never know who’ll meet and want to present yourself accordingly. This isn’t a job interview, so you can keep it business-casual. But stay away from torn or light-colored jeans, ill-fitted clothing, and clothes that say you are more interested in getting drinks after 5:00 than learning and networking with colleagues.  Polish your shoes (no sneakers, dudes), and wear shoes that you can stand and walk in for hours (a 3 or 4 inch heel isn’t a practical option).  Whatever you choose, make sure they are clean, ironed, and represent the image you want to project about yourself.
Business Cards
Make sure to bring at least 50 business cards with you. Now you won’t go around handing out your business card to everyone you meet. But you want to have enough cards to last you 3 days. You just may meet your next boss.
If you don’t have any business cards, and are reliable and have affordable options for everyone.
Don’t forget to network! Don’t leave the conference without getting the email, cell number, and Twitter name of the people you want to work with in the future. I hope these tips will be helpful to you.
On a side note, check out conference networking expert Mike Bruny. He is a great person to connect with to learn more about networking at conferences.
About the author: Dr. Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. is an eLeader who specializes in digital learning and development. His research is in technology leadership and using web tools and social technologies for professional development, teaching and learning, and social good. 

No comments:

Post a Comment