Attending Conferences 101: Maximizing Your Experience

By: Eden Hensley Photo by: Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

Conferences are not just all glitz and glamour. They are opportunities for business growth, career advancement, and continued learning. As we are halfway through our first ever Alt Summit Summer conference, here are three tips for how you can maximize your experience here in Salt Lake City or at any multiple day conference. 

Revisit Your Goals

Before arriving onsite at a conference, you should set one to two goals for yourself related to why you are attending. Goals can be to grow your business, to learn, to network, or something else. Take a moment to look at them and see whether you have met them or not.

When you decided to attend you may have had expectations of what the conference would be like. Are your goals realistic? For example, if one of your goals is to learn about how to plan an event from selecting a venue to choosing speakers, you may need to do some networking beyond attending a session or a roundtable. Depending on your energy level, you might want to change your goal or seek out attendees who throw offline events during the breaks, lunch, or the closing party.

If you had specific people with whom you wanted to connect, your paths may have already crossed. You might want to consider other people you would like to meet, add a new goal, or let interactions with other attendees guide the rest of your experience.

Photo by: Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

Review What You Have Done

Multiple day conferences have advantages and disadvantages over one day conferences. The advantage is time; you have more time to achieve goals you set for yourself. The disadvantage is time: you have more time to hear more sessions, to meet more people, and to get overwhelmed as you lose sight of the goals you set for yourself.

Skim through your notes. Flip through the business cards you collected. Consider whether you have learned what you sought or networked with whom you wanted. With a multiple day conference you have the ability to change which sessions you plan to attend or reach out to people you have not see yet.

Relax When You Are Full

Conferences are designed to satisfy multiple goals. Attendees choose their own adventure from panels and activities that run concurrently. By design no one can do everything. If you find yourself overwhelmed, give yourself permission to take a break.

Self care is important to your well being. If you feel as if your mind is going to burst with all of the information you have heard and seen, reduce the pressure. When you're full, you're full, and trying to cram more in will only deplete your energy. By relaxing and enjoying yourself, you will find yourself leaving the conference invigorated.