Conferences are great for advancing your career. They offer networking opportunities, training, and a chance to find out what’s going on in your industry. Sadly, for most of us, conferences aren’t free – they cost money to register for, require you to take a few days out of your busy work schedule, and require you to travel long distances and stay in a hotel. How can you make the most out of your conference budget? Read on for our best tips.
Don’t Spend Too Much on Travel
If you’re not on a tight schedule, consider being flexible with your flight times – early morning flights, and flights with connections, are often significantly cheaper than daytime direct flights. You can put the money you save towards a nicer hotel, or attending extra conferences.
By booking well in advance you can save money on flights and hotels, and conference tickets too. Earlybird tickets are sometimes as low as one third of the “on the day” price!
Network in Advance
Once you know you’re going to the conference, look at industry forums and see who else is going. Set up a search for the conference hashtag on Twitter and get talking to other attendees. You never know who you might meet.
Try to leave some room in your suitcase so that you can bring back all those brochures, CDs and other bits and bobs that you’ll inevitably acquire at the conference. If you don’t bring back much with you, you’ll still be glad you packed light because it will make life easier navigating the airport.
Take Business Cards
Business cards are the most important currency you have at conferences; it pays to pack far more than you need. Get some professional looking business cards printed, and hand them out to anyone that you speak to. When you get a card back, write on it to remind yourself where you met the person, and what you talked about.
Plan For Bad WiFi
Conference organizers always promise WiFi, but it usually ends up seriously overloaded, and as a result, either incredibly slow, or completely broken. Consider buying a mobile internet dongle, or some extra data allowance for your phone, so that you can stay connected no matter what.
Make Time for Food
you arrive at a conference, it’s easy to get over-enthusiastic and want to see and do everything. Forcing yourself to run from booth to booth with no breaks is a bad idea. Try to schedule in some time for food and relaxation. It will make you more productive in the long run.
Have a Plan
Before you go to the conference, spend a while reading the organizer’s website and making a list of speakers you want to see, booths you want to visit, and workshops you want to attend. When you get to the conference, pick up a copy of the program and spend a few minutes checking the schedule to make sure there have been no last minute changes.
Wash Your Hands!
The post conference flu is not a nice experience. Taking basic precautions such as washing your hands before each meal, carrying tissues for those annoying sniffles, and following good nutrition practices can help to reduce the spread of colds and flu bugs.
When you get home, send a short email to each person that you talked to at the conference. It will help them to remember you for the next show you go to.
This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Name Badges International who specialise in producing corporate name badges.