Work conferences can be a great way to meet new people and to learn valuable information. Many employers encourage their employees to attend work conferences, and some even require it. Many workers learn important information and skills, and may even get the chance to network. However, occasionally work conferences can feel like a waste of time. If you’ve attended a conference that didn’t seem to be relevant to your job, or included a lot of workshops that felt like a waste of time, then you will probably left wondering why you spent your valuable time attending the conference at all. Whether you’re attending a conference that you’ve been looking forward to for weeks, or you are simply going to appease your boss (or possibly, to get a free trip to wherever the conference is), there are many steps you can take to make the experience a positive one.
Regardless of how good the different workshops are, if you take time to network during the conference, your time won’t be wasted. Especially if you are attending a conference that is specific to your field, you will have the opportunity to meet many important and possibly helpful contacts. Use your time wisely; attend any dinners or meals that are included with your conference so that you have time to speak to people. Choose your workshops strategically if you think someone who you really want to meet (either a specific person, someone from a particular company, or even at a particular job level) might be there.
If the conference staff publishes a list of attendees ahead of time, determine who you want to try to meet while you are there. According to Salary.com, you should also stay at the hotel where the conference is located so that you don’t waste any time, and be sure to appear confident. Lastly, make an effort to establish a relationship with someone before you try to enlist their help or network.