Conferences play an important role in many industries and sectors. From teaching to finance and everything in between, conferences are an invaluable amalgamation of insights, perspectives and networks designed to benefit attendees and organisers alike.
Conferences are attended by many different stakeholders, each looking to achieve something different. Some may be there for new business opportunities; others will be there to get the latest on industry outlooks or simply to give talks. No matter what your ambition is, how can you prepare for a business conference?
Outline your objectives
As with most things, clearly defining your objectives and aims is the best way to remain focused on what you are trying to achieve. From this, you can go about planning how you will succeed and generate a return on investment from your trip. You might want to get in contact with new suppliers, generate new business leads or promote your personal brand through talks and networking. Whatever your goal, identify this and do everything possible to make sure it happens.
Review the conference schedule
Conferences can be hectic, and it’s common for attendees to miss certain events or sessions during larger gatherings. Make sure you are familiar with the conference schedule and create a reminder about the workshops or talks that you don’t want to miss. There may be two sessions running at the same time – so see if there is a way you can acquire the materials for the one you, unfortunately, will have to miss. If a conference is running over several days, you could set up in a serviced apartment to give yourself a temporary home and office while you’re away.
Identify key contacts
Conferences are all about meeting and interacting with new people – those who can give you fresh perspectives, new business or cheaper supplies. Try to identify these key contacts and targets before you arrive, if possible, to give yourself the best chance of achieving what you came to achieve. Many conferences will have an attendee list and people will often share their intention to go on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.
Pack everything you need
The last thing you should do is ensure you pack everything you need. This includes professional and casual attire for the duration of your trip, your work or conference materials, your work computer and anything else that you may need for your time away. Make sure you can access your documents or files on the move because you may not have the luxury of your usual office while you’re out of town.