I’m at LES (the Licensing Executives Society) this week in New York City. It’s been a spectacular event. Meeting lots of people, exchanging ideas, having some meaningful conversations. I’m really enjoying myself.
Tech transfer professionals are often required to attend conferences on behalf of their employer. For the newbie and the introvert, it can be an overwhelming experience. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your conference or event experience:
Get and Make a List
If at all possible, get a list of attendees. Know who you want to meet and why. If they are on social media, it may be easier to connect with them there than amidst the throngs of people at the opening night reception.
Wear something that is an icebreaker. This could be a piece of jewelry, a funny nametag, or a monkey perched on your shoulder (check with the conference about pets first), but in a sea of muted colors and drab business attire wearing bright colors or sporting a conversation maker is a strong start to people remembering you. If possible, select something you can wear every day so that people continue to recognize you.
As much as you may want to slink off to your room or go site seeing during down time, do your best to stay at the event in public places. Often the most memorable conversations occur in what is known as the “hallway track.” Don’t miss out.
Arrive Early and Stay Late
Conferences and events are jam packed with people. It’s hard to have meaningful conversations with 100 people at a time. However, if you arrive early and stay late the crowds are smaller. I know not everyone’s schedules allow them to do this for the conference in general but you can do this on a smaller scale. For instance, if you’re attending a session get in the room early to get a good seat. If it’s round table seating, it will be easy to strike up a conversation with people who would like to sit at “your table.”
Compliment and Share Positive Remarks
Always share compliments and positive remarks as boldly as you feel comfortable. If you heard an inspiring speaker, comment on social media about him/her. If the meal was fantastic or the hotel beyond your wildest dreams, take to social media and always use the hashtags for the conference. Post pictures and praise often. People will remember your attitude and want to get to know you better.
A final note about event attendance: social media is probably one of the most valuable tools you have for connecting when used strategically. Follow people, follow the hashtags. Give compliments and get seen (often) on social. People who follow along quietly will recognize you and reach out.