Are You Ready For Some Convention?

Seven tips for attending a conference.

Attending a conference related to your area of expertise provides opportunities for you to communicate with nationally known leaders of your profession. How do you get the most out of the conference, to strengthen your job performance permanently, and to expand your networking arena? For 22 years I attended conferences as a participant, and for the last eight years I have attended as a speaker and seminar leader. From that 30-year perspective, I share these suggestions.

Tips for attending a conference
  • Prior to your arrival, read the conference agenda thoroughly, and select the sessions that will be most likely to improve your skills. Stay away from the seminars you could almost teach yourself, and “stretch” by hearing about topics you have not mastered.
  • Ask a professional colleague to become your conference buddy, so you can share what you learn. This collaboration will bring special benefits when you talk about presentations that only one of you attended.
  • Stay at the conference’s designated hotel. Sure, you might find a less expensive place a few blocks away, yet your cost-cutting will not be a wise investment. By staying at the conference site, you will maximize opportunities for meeting new people. Also, you do not have to risk coming to a meeting looking disheveled from your walk, especially in bad weather. There’s a safety factor as well, since you will not have to leave the building after the evening session or banquet.
  • When you attend conference parties, realize that potential employers, clients or business partners might observe your behavior. You are not really off duty just because you are a few hundred miles from home base. Thoughtless talk or behavior could jeopardize your job and your family solidarity. Enjoy the occasion, while you remember your responsibilities and your reputation.
  • Buy the tapes and audio CDs recorded during the sessions that pertain to your expertise. Do this even for the seminars you attend, to reinforce your learning. Also, listening a second and third time will uncover key points you missed in the live session.
Tips for attending a conference
  • When appropriate, become an active participant in conference sessions, asking questions and making comments. The topics will take on new life for you. You will meet more people who want to talk with you about the topic after the meeting. Equally important, you will contribute to the conference’s success.
  • Meet and thank everyone who served on the conference committee. They deserve your compliments after many months of unpaid work. When you thank them, you will definitely stand out as one of the few who did.

Follow these rules and you should enjoy a rewarding Convention experience.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Meet the Author
Bill Lampton, Ph.D., is a motivational speaker, author and consultant based in Atlanta, Georgia, where he also serves as president of Championship Communication. His book, The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life, is available at www.championshipcommunication.com.