With autumn approaching, conference season is around the corner. Conferences are the best way to meet new people, gain visibility and excel on your career by learning new skills and making the right connections.

However, the whole concept of attending a conference at times may be overwhelming. Speakers, sponsors, sessions, workshops, expos, networking. So here are 6 tips on how to make the most out of a conference, stay focused and of course, enjoy yourself.

Before the Conference

1. Who’s Attending

Since you have the agenda on your hands, you already know the speakers. Now it’s time to get to know who is who. Get in contact with the organizer and ask them to inform you about the other participants. This will not only increase your engagement at the event but it will also be an icebreaker.

Another way to find out who might be sitting next to you is through social media. Create a post on LinkedIn announcing your participation using the name of the conference and the official hashtag. That way, you can establish a connection with them before you arrive.

2. Choose the right sessions

Is it a 2 day conference or an expo week? Review the agenda sent by the organizers. Who is speaking when and on what? Make your notes on the agenda, choose the topics that will help you learn something new and make a timetable with all the sessions you want to attend. But don’t be too strict with yourself. Feel free to jump from one session to another.

At the Conference

3. Network on your terms

If you belong to the 74% of people who are afraid of public speaking, then you have to create a situation which you are comfortable in. Smaller groups of people can be better for you instead of larger groups. You can even try one to ones. If a colleague joined you at the conference, then create a small group of people you know and people you would like to get to know better. Oh and never forget to take notes.

4. Participate in the larger conversation

Are you social media savvy? Then join the larger conversation on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Nowadays, all conference have their official social media accounts and hashtags. Follow their account and get live updates for upcoming sessions, coffee breaks or general information. Using the official hashtag, you can keep track of what other people are experiencing, post pictures or find answers to your questions.

After the Conference

5. Read your notes

Remember the notes you were taking? Now it’s the time to read through them and add them to your personal “CRM”. That way, you can keep track of the connections you made during the conference and be prepared for the….

6. Follow up!

Yes, you met new people for a reason. To network at the conference but also outside. If you met a vendor, schedule one to one meetings with them to talk about the solutions they can provide your organization or team. Search for ways you can benefit from connecting with your peers. Maybe you are facing an issue at your team and they can help you overcome any difficulties.

There is no better place to get valuable insights and stay updated with the latest trends of your industry than a conference. Make the most of your time there and have fun!