In our chemical regulatory sector, conferences might well be one of the best learning resources available. Conferences and seminars will allow you to get insightful details and updates regarding regulations from almost every region of the world presented by peers and experts in the field. In additional to learning, attending a conference gives you that precious time away from the office during which you can take a step back and analyze your activities with peer feedback. You will also get to meet with existing connections and new contacts — who knows, maybe even create lasting friendships.

You’ll return to your office with fresh perspectives, new ideas, and valuable connections. But that doesn’t happen without planning ahead.

Prepare!

  • Get all the logistics copied, printed, or stored in your phone. That includes location, dates, times, maybe even the reception theme.You don’t want to miss the notice about that Hawaian-themed networking party taking place on night 2. Depending on the conference, there might be pref-conference seminars or a chance to meet in the morning for a pre-conference run. If so make sure to pack your running gear — these side events are a great way to connect.
  • Look at the agenda and highlight which sessions interest you the most. Making the decision under time pressure may cause you to end up dissatisfied. If too many sessions sound interesting, find out more about the speakers. Think about making contact outside of the sessions to extend your reach.
  • Share on LinkedIn and Twitter that you’re planning to attend. Ask your contacts if they’re planning to go, and set up a meeting. A conference can be a great time to meet up with someone you know just on social media.
  • Look at the exhibitor list, too. Highlight the booths you do not want to miss. At some conferences, there are so many exhibitors that it’s nearly impossible to take enough time with everyone who may have something valuable for you and your team. Mark the ones you don’t want to miss and plan your route through the exhibit hall accordingly.

Schedule!

  • While you are there, schedule some one on one time with your existing partners and service providers. This is a great way to catch up and hear what they are up to. It’s more cost-effective, and more environmentally friendly, too, to take advantage of being in the same place at the same time.
  • Some exhibitors will be happy to take some time with you to go over their products and services in more detail. That’s certainly true for us at EUPHOR and xTensegrity. If you are especially interested by a company you meet at the conference, make sure to schedule a 15 to 30 minute meeting during the event. It’ll help you make a quick decision whether their offerings are useful to you

Network!

  • Don’t forget your business cards. However deeply you’re committed to digital media, a business card helps you remember people you meet — and keeps them from forgetting you, too.
  • Mingle. Do not stay with the same group all throughout the event. Meeting new people is a core benefit of industry events.

Recap!

  • A lot of specific information is shared during conferences. It’s easy to end the day feeling overwhelmed. One technique is to sum up a session in a sentence as soon as it ends. Just write the most important concept or information you take away from each presentation. At the end of each day, list in 3 to 5 points the most important things you’ve learned — and an action step you can take.
  • When you get back to the office, use those notes to jog your memory and write out a summary of what you’ve learned. Identify actionable insights and think about ways to implement the ideas you’ve heard. Consider how your team could use the new information, and what changes might be required to keep up with new details. Now you’re ready to share these key points with colleagues and management.
  • Before you wrap up the event, look at all the contacts you made, connect with them on social media, and send personal notes to the ones you most enjoyed connecting with.
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