Tech conferences can be a money sink or a game changer. Make sure you make the most of your next appearance.
Conferences are fantastic opportunities for business leaders in the tech industry especially for the new entrepreneur or burgeoning professional trying to make meaningful connections.
Before your next tech conference, think about past events and see if there’s anything you wish you’d done differently or could’ve done better.
If this is your first event, think about the following advice as you formulate your itinerary.
Make the Right Kind of First Impression
Making a memorable and meaningful appearance at your next tech conference is important for many new business owners, but it’s important not to go overboard. While conveying an image of success and authority is important, it’s vital that you don’t come off as trying too hard to make a lasting impression on other attendees.
A quirky sense of humor can do wonders for networking, but unfortunately, many people have taken this too far and are purely obnoxious. Shameless self-promotion is expected to a certain degree at networking functions, but taking it too far will just lead others to think you’re not serious enough about your work to act professionally.
Don’t Be Pushy
While you may feel the need to get your business card into the hands of as many people as possible, it’s important to remain professional and respectful. Offer your card rather than sticking it in peoples’ faces, and get to know people beyond their names, organizations and titles.
Networking is crucial during tech conferences, and you should be starting before the event begins. See if there are other attendees staying in or near the conference venue, and try to strike up conversations.
Have a Plan
Most tech conferences span several days, so review the list of presentations and plan accordingly. Schedule time to visit the presentations and Q&A sessions you don’t want to miss, and then prioritize your spare time for wandering. See your warmest leads or the booths that interest you the most first.
If you’re putting your business card into peoples’ hands, you’re probably going to have some interactions with some of the people you meet following the conference. In today’s connected world, your business card likely has your social media tags included so update your profiles before the conference.
There will likely be a dizzying amount of information in front of you during the conference. When you’re attending presentations, listening to talks and Q&As, and visiting vendor booths, remember to take notes. If you’re the sole representative of your company at the conference, you’ll want to remember valuable information for your team.
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If you’re part of a group that has been sent to the conference, take advantage of the old adage, “divide and conquer.” You can make more connections, cover more ground, and gain more information if you split up and vary your efforts.
Conferences are long-distance events, so don’t burn yourself out on the first day for fear of missing something vital. If you take the time to prioritize where you want to go and who you want to see, you should be able to keep up a comfortable pace during the conference.
Mind your personal wellness during your trip as well. While dinners and drinks are common affairs during conferences, it’s important to be careful about what you eat, how much you drink, and how much sleep you’re getting. You can’t get the most out of a tech conference if you’re hungover or barely awake.
Break Away From the Crowd
Conferences tend to foster a herd mentality. When a large group of people starts moving suddenly toward a particular booth or presentation, the social inclination is to follow them. Most experts will tell you that the most memorable and meaningful interactions they’ve had at tech conferences were in quieter, more intimate settings that fostered more personal connections.
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Don’t be one of those people who say they’ll call and never do. If you make a connection, follow up on it. If you’re at a tech conference, you’ve got a smartphone with you. As soon as you have a promising conversation, pencil that person in for a follow-up call or email a few days after the event. Add his or her business card info to your contacts.
Keep these thoughts in mind for your next tech conference. Plan accordingly and prioritize your time, and you should easily be able to enjoy yourself, have meaningful interactions, grow your business, and get your name further out into the world.