Conference season is just around the corner. In late summer and throughout the fall, HR industry events and national conferences are in full swing. Hoards of attendees swarm tables and elaborate booths, while keynote speakers take the podium in a display of thought-leadership. With companies spending thousands to exhibit and attend, there’s a wealth of networking and learning opportunities available.
Check out our tips for maximizing your visit to an HR industry conference.
1. Know Why You’re There
You’ve chosen the HR industry for a reason. Before you attend, have a strategy in place to ensure you are working towards a defined set of goals. This is a corporate investment and you should be accomplishing something by being there.
2. Got Questions?
Part of your strategic planning for the event should include preparing a list of pertinent questions for vendors and session speakers. Write it down. Once you’re there, the distractions are endless, and you’ll want to make sure you come away with the right answers.
3. What’s Behind Door Number 1?
Pick your sessions wisely. They’ll be a lot of smaller panels and seminars you’ll want to attend but you probably won’t be able to make them all. Select the ones that will be most valuable for your business goals, but also consider sessions that will foster individual and professional growth.
4. Speak to The Speakers
Once a focused session is over, don’t hesitate to stick around and chat up the experts or guest speakers on the panels. Often, they’ll be happy to accept your positive feedback and take additional questions. And who knows, you may end up with another LinkedIn connection that could help you down the line.
5. Don’t Forget to Network
Booth-hopping for tchotchkes and getting your Bingo stamps are all well and good, but these reps and industry experts are also a source of valuable information and potential partnerships. Take the opportunity to connect and hear them out.
6. It’s Ok to Enjoy Yourself
All work and no play? Where’s the fun in that? There are sponsored lounges, breakout sessions, and cocktail hours for a reason. Don’t overindulge but do connect with peers and likeminded industry professionals. A little casual socializing in a relaxed atmosphere may be just as productive, if not more, than networking in seminars.
7. The Buddy System
If you can bring a colleague, you have an opportunity to attend multiple sessions and collaborate on your experiences. For larger venues, you can each start on different ends of the space to ensure that you’ve covered the entire area.
8. Stay for the Closing Keynote
You’ll be tempted to throw in the towel early, catch a more convenient flight out, or take in the sights before you leave the area. But don’t. Try and stay for the entire conference. Closing sessions and late-in-the-game speakers can provide important information that shouldn’t be missed.
9. Be Present
Today’s wired in conference attendees are often checking their email, taking calls, and texting or tweeting incessantly. If you’re too busy looking down at your phone or recharging your laptop, you’ll miss out on the experience and won’t be able to fully consume the value of the event. Disconnect from your mobile office to connect with your surroundings.