By: Victoria Numbers
Industry conferences have many multi-faceted benefits and can be an incredible experience if you understand how to navigate the event. Here are a few tips so you can make the most of your next conference.
- Download the app: Most seminars and conferences now offer an application exclusive to the event you’re attending. Although you might think, ‘I’ll just follow the printed program’, there is a more efficient way! For example, the Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo app reminds you of sessions you’re attending or interested in once you populate the Schedule. The room number, speaker information and presentation slides are all easily accessible via the app. Another nice function is the ability to ask questions to the presentation team which can be answered in real time, and is especially helpful in large banquet rooms!
- Make a plan: Familiarize yourself with the layout of the expo hall and depending on the scale, note which vendors are a priority. There will most likely be enough time to visit additional booths, and this is often where unique or new products are discovered.
- Recharge: Remember that you will be immersed in a non-stop learning environment and that it is okay to give your mind a rest. Between sessions and visiting the expo hall, take a quick walk outside the convention center or find a comfy nook to decompress.
- Dress the part: Conference attire is typically business casual but can range from dressy casual to formal business. Keep in mind that even though the weather may be warm outside, conference rooms are often air conditioned and much cooler due to the high number of participants in the space. It is a good idea to bring a light jacket or sweater. Anyone who has attended the expansive interior design conference, NeoCon, in Chicago knows the value of wearing comfortable walking shoes!
- Network, network, network!: Don’t be afraid to make small talk when you’re picking up your morning coffee and pastry. Get out of your comfort zone by sitting with potential connections during meal breaks, rather than co-workers who you might be attending the event with. Networking is a skill that can be practiced over time, check out this site for more helpful hints https://www.huffingtonpost.com/topic/Networking%20tips
- SHARE the wealth: The best way to retain knowledge gained at these events is to talk about what you learned! Most companies require associates to make a presentation to their team or the staff upon their return, so be ready to share key points and additional resources. To take this a step further, have an in-depth conversation with your project team or fellow designers about a particularly interesting concept you were able to discover.