1. Look at the schedule and register for the panels and sessions you want to attend early, because space is often limited. Don’t be shy about asking questions while in them, this is your opportunity to engage with the top experts in your field; take advantage of it!
2. Peruse the list of exhibitors and visit your favorites first. Exhibitors often run out of their best swag on day one, so make it a point to do a round in the exhibit hall as early as you can.
3. Network. You’ll be surrounded by thousands of like-minded professionals from your industry! Attend networking events and keep your ear to the ground for after-hours opportunities to enjoy some drinks or attend parties with other attendees – this can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of the conference!
4. Dress to impress and wear comfortable shoes. This sends the signal of respect and authority, and you’ll be ready for any impromptu professional or business opportunities that may present themselves…the comfortable shoes aspect is just common sense – you’ll be on your feet for most of the day.
5. Craft your elevator pitch. You’ll be hobnobbing with the best of the best, be well prepared to introduce (or sell) yourself in 30 seconds.
6. Take PLENTY of business cards (and take a few copies of your resume if you’re hunting for a job). Running out of business cards before making a sought-after connection happens at every conference. Don’t let it happen to you!
7. Can’t attend every session? Designate a session buddy. Exchange notes and have discussions about sessions that each of you missed, it’s a great way to get the highlights.
8. Scope out a few sight-seeing spots that are nearby and leave yourself a little bit of time to enjoy the city you’re visiting. Conferences are typically held in desirable locations to visit, so plan a little fun time!