Attending tech conferences can be exciting, interesting, and hectic, but it can also be overwhelming. You'll be surrounded by a crowd of people; you'll have to choose which sessions and talks to attend while trying to network, remember to eat, and make notes. It's a lot to take in.
So, whether you're looking to attend your first big tech conference or just want to know more about making the most of your next tech conference, here's everything you need to know.
Things to do before you go
One of the most critical parts of attending a tech conference is preparation. Your conference experience starts long before the event, and you should be prepared before you go.
Research, Research. Research
Enjoying a conference is all about research. You need to research the best tech conference for you to attend. You should look at upcoming tech conference schedules and subjects. Don't just pick a conference based on one talk as you'll find the rest of the event very tedious. Look for a range of interesting topics and read up a little on each subject area. Do you want a woman in tech conference specialty? Or maybe you only want the top tech conferences.
Reach out to your existing network
If you already know some people in the industry, reach out to them to let them know you will attend. Ask a contact if they've seen who is speaking at the event and let them know you thought of them. You may be able to set up some networking meetings and lunches before you arrive.
Check the schedule
Once the conference schedule is released, start planning which talks and sessions you want to attend, which aren't relevant to you and what is a total must-see. You might want to do a little research on each one to be sure you are picking the best talks for you. Some in-demand events might need you to book tickets in advance, while others you can just turn up on the day.
Once you arrive
Arriving at big tech conferences can be super exciting, and it's easy to get carried away running around and looking at stalls and demonstrations. While you should definitely take some time to relax and enjoy the moment, there are some other things you should be doing when you arrive to ensure you enjoy your time.
Work out the layout
If the conference is on the larger side, you'll need to spend some time working out where everything is. Wonder around the space if you can or get a map of the conference and find toilets, food areas, exits and the main stages. If there is a number system, try to work it out so that you don't waste time getting lost during the conference.
If you've done your research, you should be heading to the conference with a plan. You'll know which talks you want to attend; you should have dedicated networking time and time to explore, but, as most people know, things rarely go to plan. You may need to prioritize and adapt your strategy. If you run into a speaker and get on well and weren't planning on attending their talk, you might want to change your plans to maintain a new contact. Be prepared to be flexible but keep your original goals in mind.
Use social media
Don't be afraid to tweet and post on LinkedIn about your experiences. Get vocal on social media, share stories, comment on other people's posts and discuss interesting talking points. This is a great way to boost your connections and social media presence and show off your expertise. Don't forget to check the conference hashtags or mention the local area, such as NewYorkTechConference, or the specific industry, #healthcaretechconference.
Conferencing is the perfect place to network. You'll be surrounded by like-minded people looking to learn and interested in similar subjects. Talk to everyone, congratulate speakers on their talks, and network the entire time you are there. Ask people what they think of the conference, what their favorite event has been, and discuss their area of expertise. If appropriate, exchange contact details or find them on LinkedIn to follow up after the event.
After the conference is over
Once the conference has ended, you will undoubtedly be exhausted but hopefully very content and happy. But the work doesn't stop just yet. Make sure you follow up with any contacts you have made and start putting your new knowledge into practice.