As the Make Training Stick team prepares to attend the Association for Talent Development (ATD) International Conference and Expo in Washington, D. C., it is important to keep in mind what needs to be done before, during, and after any convention to get the most out of you conference attendance. Conferences provide us with a unique environment to connect and learn all under the same roof. Instead of thinking of conferences as the event you have to attend for work, think of attending conferences as as a few days to learn valuable information from experts while increasing your network. Attending conferences can be extremely beneficial for social networking and gaining new insight and skills. Most conferences are expensive and cover a lot of information is over a few days. It is possible to still gain valuable information and skills while attending a conference, even if participating in every session is impossible.
Before the Conference
Before attending a conference, it is crucial to make the proper preparations before attending by determining:
What am I trying to get out of the conference?
Why am I attending the conference?
What do I want to gain?
Completing these answers will set initial goals for attendees.
It can also be beneficial to conduct some preliminary research. Often times conferences are large and overwhelming, so preliminary research would help you have a grasp on the conference. It also will prepare you so you are aware of the sessions that interest and are relevant to you. Another great way to prepare for the conference would be to gain visibility at the conference itself by volunteering, speaking, or facilitating a session. These are easy ways to get involved and stand out in a crowd of people. Reconnecting with old contacts is also a great time to catch up with old friends or colleagues.
During the Conference
During the conference, the most beneficial thing you can do in order to make the most is to take notes, participate, and socialize. Conferences offer you a unique opportunity to socialize and gain some valuable new skills and information. Attending sessions that are beneficial to you and being fully engaged during those sessions will provide you with resources long after the conference ends. Be sure to participate in conference events, activities, including visiting vendor booths. There will be many people present and socializing will be a great way to meet new people and build business connections. Use the technology and social media tools that are provided at the conference and take advantage of all the opportunities that could be potentially helpful to you. It is also important to enjoy yourself and not overbook your schedule. Make time for relaxation and “fun” so you can truly get the most out of the conference.
After the Conference
After the conference is over it is important to make sure the information and skills learned are not lost and wasted. After the conference, follow up with people you have met and information and resources that may be valuable. Reflect on the things that you experienced and heard during the conference. Keep the conference program, it contains information and contacts that may be beneficial to you in the future.
Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you make the most out of your conference experience. And remember to enjoy your conference!
Until next time…