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How To Get The Most Out Of Your Conference Experience

Attending conferences can be expensive, time-consuming, and tiring. That’s why you arrive with high expectations, a taste for new experiences, and hope you’ll learn something amazing!

But there are a few ways you can be sure that you actively prepare yourself to get the most out of every conference you attend. I know you’re expecting the same advice from every other article you’ve read but we’ll be taking a unique approach here so give this some thought!

KNOW YOURSELF

Do you thrive in a fast paced environment? Do you feel like you need to see everything and hear everything to have a great time? Then invest in the full conference experience and prepare yourself to go to every event. You’re the kind of person that will suffer from severe FOMO if you miss even the smallest thing. Know that in advance and don’t miss anything!

Maybe you like to take things at a slower pace. You’re introverted or you’ve been in the business for a long time and consider conferences as a resting time away from the hustle of event life. Prepare for down times in your day or in the evening. Get away from the action and spend time with your favorite business book or industry friend. You’ll feel the most connected and fulfilled when you focus in on what makes you feel revived and renewed for the next day of training.

BREAK THE MOLD

Have you ever looked at a conference schedule and felt required to attend certain sessions? Maybe you love a certain speaker but you’ve already seen them many times… but you’re unsure of the newer speakers on the roster?

Many professionals come to a conference with a list of sessions that fit your current job role. You feel responsible to attend these sessions to better your business or brand. But this means that sometimes you miss sessions that might be challenging or highly beneficial for your personal growth.

You’ve already heard the age-old “spend time making a schedule of the sessions you’d like to attend” advice. But I’d like to challenge you to spend time considering stepping outside of the path you think you should follow. Instead, follow your intrigue and curiosity.

Take in a marketing course (like mine on Tuesday afternoon) even if you’re a chef. Take in a sales course even if you never step foot in the sales office. Expanding your speaker shortlist is also a great way to hear from professionals who have experienced and known different things than that old favorite speaker. You may find that there’s even more engaging content from someone you’ve never seen before!

What you’ll learn from expanding your horizons will be more beneficial than wading through what you’ve already heard before!

Understanding new roles and new ideas can greatly improve how you work within departments and grow your business.

ACTIVELY CREATE CONNECTIONS

The easiest thing you’ll do at any conference is reunite and connect with the people you already know. Reconnecting with friends from around the globe at a conference is heartwarming and exciting. But… it also causes you to fall into a bit of a networking rut.

The most powerful takeaway you’ll have from any conference experience is people. The connections you make will stay with you for years to come. Making and maintaining them is your choice and require that you take action to have them.

Don’t be afraid to walk up to a group of strangers and say hello! Introduce yourself, ask to connect online, listen to their experiences, and learn from them. Then share what you have to offer!

When you become the catalyst for connecting you’ll never feel like you’ve left a conference empty-handed. Instead, you’ll leave with a handful of new friends and potential partners!

DO MORE THAN TAKE NOTES

Listen, notes are awesome. Especially when you hear something new! But how many times have you heard something, wrote it down, and never actually implemented it? I’d bet quite a lot.

This time, ditch the notebook for a digital planning tool or teamwork tool. Instead of writing notes for later, hop into your digital planning tool and create a task. Inside of that task write down pertinent information you learned during the session as it relates to that task. Before the session is over set due date to that task so that it’ll become part of your overall planning and business strategy!

I love using Trello for this! You can even add your team members and all of you use the same planning board from different sessions. You’ll all be able to learn and activate from a central dashboard!

COME OPEN

Arrive at every conference with an open mind. When you believe that you can learn something from everything and everyone (even the newest of professionals or speakers) you’ll more likely be available and open to hearing new thoughts. After all, I’m sure you haven’t seen, tried, tested, or adapted every idea that will be presented.

Learning means that you listen, take in, assess, and cultivate if a concept works for you and your business. No one is asking you to adopt everything you hear but staying open to new ideas will leave you feeling much more fulfilled and excited about your conference experience!

Yes, you should wear flats, bring a sweater for chilly conference rooms, follow up with the people you connect with, and take in the local scenery but the best conference experiences happen when you lean into your own personal growth and development.

You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and it’ll show in your success and how you feel about any conference experience.

 

Kellie Daab is the Founder of Wedding Industry Education and a Wedding Business Architect. Known as a thought leader and disruptor in the wedding industry, Kellie brings a digitally minded approach to clarity, strategy, and mastery in business. After 14 years in event planning, hospitality, venues, and catering – Kellie has worn the heels and carried the bus tubs. Described by industry peers as “a smack down delivered with a bouquet of roses”, Kellie leads thousands of wedding industry professionals through empowering ingenuity and encouraging innovation in life and business. As a featured author, educator, and speaker, Kellie facilitates live educational communities and online courses for wedding professionals around the globe.

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Kellie Daab

Kellie Daab is the Founder of Wedding Industry Education and a Wedding Business Architect. Known as a thought leader and disruptor in the wedding industry, Kellie brings a digitally minded approach to clarity, strategy, and mastery in business. After 14 years in event planning, hospitality, venues, and catering - Kellie has worn the heels and carried the bus tubs. Described by industry peers as "a smack down delivered with a bouquet of roses", Kellie leads thousands of wedding industry professionals through empowering ingenuity and encouraging innovation in life and business. As a featured author, educator, and speaker, Kellie facilitates live educational communities and online courses for wedding professionals around the globe.

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