As we’re preparing to head south to Nashville, TN this week for WordCamp US, we are thinking about the people and places we want to meet and see. We are also considering how we might get the most out of our time at this annual conference. Below are a few of the ways we’ve learned to optimize our time and effort over the years while attending conferences and events.
Before arriving at the conference center on the day of the event, research who’s going to be attending. That could mean looking at the event’s website for a list of attendees or looking at the event’s hashtag on social media. Social media is a great way to discover other mini-events happening at the conference as well as a great way to connect with other attendees beforehand. If Twitter is your thing, creating a list of attendees is one way to keep track of those you want to meet.
In addition to researching who will be in attendance, researching the details of when and where things are happening is helpful for feeling prepared while at the event. Adding times and locations to a mobile calendar has proven valuable for having one place of reference.
The Mindset of Networking
For some, the thought of traditional networking can feel inauthentic and icky, but a shift in the way we think about networking can open up possibilities. Thinking of networking as meeting likeminded people and making meaningful connections can be the shift in perspective that makes networking enjoyable. Since many small businesses rely on personal connections for their work, the ability to deepen our connections can be hugely valuable not only in getting the word out about our own work but in learning about what others are working on and the services and products they offer.
Focus on One Takeaway to Implement
Spending any time at all on the Internet will reveal an overwhelming amount of available information to consume. Everyone has an opinion about how things should be done, what things should be done, and who should do them, which is great and amazing. It is also perfectly okay to decide not to let the sheer volume of information become a reason to become overwhelmed. Likewise, conferences offer many different perspectives and opinions and it can be difficult not to become overwhelmed by all of the things. Focusing on one key point to implement ourselves in our workflow or business can be valuable.