Note: This post was written for our first installment of Find & Follow Your Passion on April, 21, 2012.
Our conference, Find & Follow Your Passion, is going to rock. No question. We have amazing speakers, a great career fair and education fair, free books, awesome name tags thanks to Thinkstock, and more.
The real question is, are you ready for it? Taking the time to do some prep work can greatly increase the effectiveness of conferences. Meaning, you’ll learn more, meet more awesome people, have better conversations, and find more opportunities.
Taking a few pointers from a previous post about being a networking rockstar, many of the same rules apply.
How to Prepare for a Conference
1. The basics. Look over the schedule before you arrive. That way, you can make sure you get to hear the speakers who can help you the most. Have a plan of attack, but don’t obsess over sticking to it. For example, if a session you were dying to see is filled, be positive about the chance to hear about a topic you may not have otherwise.
2. Know thy guests. You have our permission to mildly cyber-stalk speakers/attendees. This kind of savvy networking is going to further your career, and we’re all for that. We just call it research.
3. Go crazy with social. Conference information is meant to be shared. Spread the love on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Foursquare, Pinterest, and anywhere you see fit. When you help others become more knowledgable on the interwebs, you’re making the [online] world a better place.
4. Meet and greet. Spend time getting to know your fellow conference attendees. The odds are in your favor that somebody somewhere at the conference can connect you to an amazing opportunity. You’ll have the chance to meet project collaborators for future work, potential coworkers, and friends. Leverage down times and mingle with speakers and attendees. For Find Passion tomorrow, for instance, we have a snack break sponsored by Thinkstock at 11:15am, a great chance to refuel and meet people.
5. Bring business cards. It may seem old school, but it works. Don’t have any of your own yet? Ask people put their email directly into your phone and email them a quick note on the spot. You need not be employed to have a card, simply include your name, social media profiles, phone number, and field (ie Marketing Professional, Fine Artist, etc). Still not sure where to start? Read about five places to get free or cheap business cards.
6. Follow up for real. Don’t just think or talk about getting back to people. Make an effort, and after the event, send thank you’s to professionals you chatted up and met, or really – anyone you met at all. More follow up equals more opportunities.
7. Keep it classy. An after party is a great opportunity to continue your conversations outside the conference. Have fun and make a toast (or two) to volunteers and panelists who put the conference together. Just remember, for professional events it is strongly advised to maintain a 2-drink maximum.
So what made you decide to come to #FindPassion in the first place? We’d love to hear.
We’d also love for you to follow and like photos we’ll be posting on our soon-to-be unveiled Instagram: @nycinterns. Rock on.