Going to a conference can be intimidating especially if you are first-time attendee. Not knowing where to go and not knowing another soul at an event can be lonely so here are some tips that will not only make your conference experience more enjoyable but also hopefully less stressful!
1. Have a Plan. To make the most of your time at a conference it is important to have a plan for example, what sessions do you want to attend and/or what exhibitors do you want to talk you.
Take the time to do your homework so you come ready to learn and connect with the right individuals/companies. Make sure you download the conference app as you can use it to create a customized schedule.
2. Read the conference material. Now in all honesty this one is personal. As someone who plans conferences I can tell you firsthand how much time and energy go into the communications that we send ahead of time. We want to make sure you have everything you need so you are prepared when you arrive.
3. Know the conference essentials. Here are some general rules of thumb – bring a sweater or jacket as hotel meeting rooms tend to run cold, wear comfy shoes as there can be quite a bit of walking and if you get confused or have any questions please ask! We will have local volunteers as well many SHRM staff in attendance and we are more than happy to help.
4. Take the opportunity to make a conference friend. I have attended conferences without knowing anyone and it is really nice to make a connection with another attendee to have someone to enjoy your meals with and quite frankly talk about what you learned and what you are looking forward to learning. These connections can and should outlive the conference. It is a perfect way to expand your personal and professional network.
5. Follow the conference hashtag. Let’s face it social is here to stay and even if you are not active on Twitter it is a great way to see what others are talking about and learning at the conference.
I know it can be nerve wracking to tweet but if that is not for you simply follow the conversation on #shrmtalent. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you can learn.
Bottom line is that attending a conference alone can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be. If you are prepared and open to meeting new acquaintances you could find that your first time attending a highlight of your professional career.