Make the most out of your conference experience

by Suba

If you read multiple personal finance blogs, you know that the Financial Blogger Conference is next Friday. I am so excited and can’t wait! I have been going through the agenda and there are SO many great talks and sessions. In the past, I have been to a lot of conferences, mostly related to my job. Conferences could be a boring; presentation after presentation with stale coffee and a bad head ache or inspiring, awesome & a can’t-wait-for-next year experience. As my mind is really occupied with the FINCON11, I thought I will write about some tips that helped me get the most out of a conference.

Before the conference

Before you spend the money on the ticket read about the conference and see if it really is your type of conference. Some conferences might be a huge party and might not be a great fit for someone looking to gain a lot of technical knowledge. Before you go to the conference know what you want your main take away from the conference to be. Knowledge? Fun? Networking? A bit of everything?

Prepare a game plan: After you buy the ticket, really study the conference agenda and prepare a game plan. Go over the list of speakers, know when the breakout sessions are, find out what lunch events are happening,  who will be in the expo, etc. It might take you several iterations to find the best possible schedule but this exercise will help you set your priorities and will help tremendously in managing your time efficiently.

Pack the right kind of attire: Anyone who has gone to BlogHer will tell you that high heel shoes are the worst thing to take for the conference. Your legs will be begging for relief after a couple of hrs. Know the dress code and pack something you are comfortable in. I am an introvert to begin with, so if I wear something really new and feel very self-conscious, I know I will be sabotaging my chances to have a good conference. I want to be myself.

During the conference

Come prepared to learn: There will be session after session, expert panels and presentations. Decide which ones would be useful and interesting to you. Before each session check if the transcript/recording will be available so that you can concentrate on the talk rather than spending time taking notes. If the recording won’t be available, make sure you note down at least action points from the talk.

Come prepared to network: Conversations are more valuable than presentations. You could make life time friends at conferences; get future clients or close on a business deal. Make genuine connections, people will remember you more than your business card.

Come prepared to be yourself: This is a must.  People can generally spot a phony facade very quickly.  Don’t try to be overly impressive or extravagant.  Each one of us has something useful to contribute.  Just being yourself allows you to be comfortable and that much more likely to get your points across to others.  That leads to good discussions and exchanges.

After the conference

Create an implementation plan: Usually for conferences related to work, we prepare a report on what we learned and how it will be useful to our work. That might not be required for a blog conference as we are not reporting to anyone, but I say you should still do the report. Prepare a list of new things you learned, how it can improve your blog and a timeline to implement those improvements.

Don’t let the connections die: At the end of the day, the most valuable thing from a conference would be the connections you made, people you met. Follow up and make that connection a life time relationship.

I am so excited to be going to the financial blogger conference. This would be my first personal finance conference and a conference where I already know (virtually and through reading their blogs) almost everyone who is attending. It should be a unique and fun experience. Have you attended a blogging/hobby conference before? Any tips?

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Peter September 23, 2011 at 7:20 am

This will actually be my first conference, so I’m pretty excited to go! I feel like I have a list ten miles long of things to get done before I leave next week.. Getting my business cards, putting together handouts for my “ask the expert” session, figuring out what companies to meet with, finalizing travel plans, and on and on.. Lots of planning to do.

When I get there I just want to have a good time, network with other bloggers, meet some of the ones I’ve known for years now, and just try to soak it all in!

Michelle September 23, 2011 at 7:40 am

This is a great post. I’ve been going to a lot of conferences for work lately. And I wasn’t sure if I was utilizing it the best.

Jon - Free Money Wisdom September 24, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Some great tips for the work conferences I attend. Although, I am not always a fan of them. They definitely lean more toward the boring side. 🙂

Jackie @ freeismylife September 23, 2011 at 11:40 am

Have fun at Financial Blogger Conference. I heard that Pat from Smart Passive Income is speaking. I cannot wait to read your recap

Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 23, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Great advice Kay Lynn. I am excited and a little nervous about the conference. I still feel like a complete newbie in this community but I see a big future here. I’m really looking forward to learning from everyone there.

20's Finances September 23, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Great tips Kay Lynn. I am sad to be missing this conference, but I have just joined the blogging world and have lots to learn. I am looking forward to the possible trip next year though. 🙂

Buck Inspire September 23, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Awesome tips, you sound like a conference veteran. Hope you have a productive and fun time at FINCON11! Bummed can’t make it this time around. Will you be posting about your experience?

Financial Samurai September 24, 2011 at 8:20 am

Follow up is so key! Don’t let the connections die at all. It’s the same for everybody one meets!

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