If you often find yourself attending professional conferences, chances are you’ve sometimes wondered if they were truly worth your time. While the content and presenters certainly play a role in the efficacy of any conference, here are six smart steps you can take to absorb more useful information and maximize the benefits of attending.
Download the event app beforehand
Many professional development organizations are creating their own apps these days to increase attendance and share information about upcoming events. By downloading the app a few days prior to the conference, you’ll get an inside look into what you should expect during the conference, information on how to pre-register for popular sessions with seating limits, access to pre-conference networking reception information and much more.
Bring your tablet
It’s quick and easy to take notes these days using a stylus with any of the tablets on the market. If hand-written notes seem cumbersome and you hate transcribing them later, utilize an app that reads your short-hand and creates a type-written document for you.
Immediately determine your takeaways
If you’re taking notes on your tablet device, give them a quick scan immediately after each session to determine the main points you’re taking away, as well as any action items you plan to implement at the office later. Reviewing each session’s notes right after the fact ensures that you won’t forget the context of what you wrote or its potential application in your business setting.
Embrace unfamiliar topics
Many times, conferences feature multiple sessions taking place at the same time. Most of us are drawn to topics we already know quite a bit about, but you’ll get much more from a conference if you choose sessions in which you have little or no knowledge or experience. Every part of the presentation will be new to you, so you’re sure to take more away than you would in a topic you already specialize in.
Follow-up with new contacts immediately
When you’re collecting business cards left and right, it’s easy to forget which conversation you had with which person. User your smartphone to add each new business contact into your phone book as soon as you can after meeting them. If possible, shoot them a quick e-mail letting them know you enjoyed speaking with them and referencing what you discussed. After all, efficient networking and follow-through can often net you job offers or business relationships in the future.
Use the conference hashtag
While it’s not always possible to tweet in real-time, make sure you’re tweeting about the conference throughout the day and utilizing any available hashtags to do so. This puts you on the radar of both conference organizers and other forward thinking conference participants, making Twitter a fantastic networking tool to complement any face-to-face relationships you establish throughout the day. It’s also a great way to get fellow participants to begin following you and learning more about your business.
Before you attend your next conference, resolve to maximize the benefits of attending. Utilize technology to record takeaways and action items, organize new contacts, establish business connections and set yourself apart from your colleagues.
Elliot Banks is has worked as a iPhone app developer for the past 2 years. For more information, visit http://doubledutch.me/event-app.html.