Professional Development: 4 Tips for getting the most from conferences and workshops

In last week’s blog I touched on the value of professional development. This week I wanted to present some helpful tips on getting the most out of your conference/workshop experience.

Online Streaming: Find out if a conference offers live online streaming before you register. Many times online streaming is free or a fraction of the cost. Not only will you save money on traveling, you’ll also save on time. Online streaming gives you the option to choose which speakers you want to listen to.

Network: Connect. Connect. Connect. Attending a conference or workshop is the chance to meet people in person. Nervous about introducing yourself? Warm up by finding someone that you’ve met before. Take plenty of business cards and hand them out. An intern once asked, “When is the right time to exchange business cards?” There is no ‘right’ time. Do what feels comfortable in the conversation. Sometimes handing them out as you shake hands is a great way to break the ice.

Ask Questions: Review the agenda before the conference starts. Have a list of questions you hope to get answered from a speaker or during a breakout session. Engage with others by asking them what they expect to gain from their experience.

Follow-up: Follow-up works two ways. Compile your notes and present them to your employer. They want to know what you learned and if it was worth your time. Be honest about your experience. If the event wasn’t what you were expecting you’ll have gained a better perspective on the type and caliber of events you should attend in the future.

Follow-up with the connections you made. Send a note with your business card to those that you want to continue a business/personal relationship with. You never know how that person might affect your future.

What tips would you give someone before they attend a conference or workshop?

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