A good conference can be a game-changer — sparking a fresh interest, teaching you something new, or helping you think about your role. From huge affairs, like Dreamforce for tech trailblazers, to more niche events like the annual CMX Summit for community pros or Create & Cultivate’s series for small business owners, there’s truly something for every type of professional. Read on for four reasons why you should give the next one that catches your eye a shot.
1. Build relationships. Conferences are known for being an effective place to network; attending the right ones can help you meet new people and catch up on the latest with those you already know. To make the most of each connection, ask for their card or social media handle; then follow-up shortly after the conference. If you’re not sure exactly what to say, this template from The Muse will do the trick:
Hi [contact’s name],
It was great to meet you at [name of event] on [date]. I had a great time chatting with you about [something you talked about]. On your LinkedIn profile, it says you’re currently working on [responsibility in current job/organization or side project]—and [reason why it relates to you]. Let me know if you’re ever free to grab coffee!
2. Get out of your comfort zone. Whether you’re a shy introvert who normally wilts in social settings or you have started in a new role or field, conferences are just the ticket to push you further. Setting a goal or intention before the conference can help you feel focused and less anxious — plus, it gives you something to measure success by. Brianna Haag, Head of Events and Partnerships for The League, says it can be as simple as handing out a certain number of cards or having a specific number of quality conversations. Once you’ve met your goal, you can feel free to head home.
3. Do something different. If you’ve been in your job for a while, chances are you know that things can start to feel stale. Heading to a conference can be a great way to shake things up and hear from people who can offer a new perspective. To get the full experience, familiarize yourself with the agenda before you go — highlight the speakers, breakout sessions, and demos that instantly catch your eye. Next, challenge yourself to attend something that wouldn’t normally interest you. Chances are good that you might learn something new or see things in a different way afterwards.
4. Find momentum. There’s something energizing about being around a group of enthusiastic or inspiring people, and conferences can be a great way to tap into those feel-good vibes. Not sure how to bring the party home once it’s over? Try tuning into your favorite speaker’s podcast or keeping up with their blog, plan coffee meetups with people you met, or test out some of the tips, tricks, and products you learned about. You can also re-order products you loved from your swag bag and search for tickets to similar events or a local series to keep the energy flowing.
Shameless plug: Join Camp OrgOrg this October