Time-Saving Tips when Attending a Conference


It happens every year. People of a similar profession or specialty from around the country gather together to spend several days immersed in exploring and learning new and interesting things about their craft. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as a conference. Although the concept of a conference is nothing new, the practice of attending a conference can very much be a daunting and stressful ordeal.

One of the biggest challenges that visitors face at a conference is that there is so much to do and to see, but with little amount of time to cover everything. Navigating through large crowds, waiting in long lines to visit exhibitors, staying to the end of overdrawn Q&A sessions, and lengthy wait times for transportation and more are all time-consuming problems that take away from a valuable conference experience.

However, most of these time-impeding issues can be diminished or even eliminated with just a little bit of pre-planning and preparation on the part of the attendee. Read below for time-saving tips and advice that will help you get the most out of your next trip to a conference:

Set a Goal
What exactly is your goal when you attend a conference? Is it to find the latest products and technology for your practice or business? Going for continuing education, seminars, and lectures? Or possibly for networking opportunities to broaden your brand recognition? Whatever the reason, making a goal will set your priorities, narrow your focus, and will allow you to better execute what you need to accomplish during your stay at the conference.

Plan before You Go
For any conference, it is best to register as early as possible. Being an early registrant can give you better opportunities to stay as close to the conference as possible during your visit. For instance, if the conference is held in a hotel, registering early will give you the chance to book a room right in the vicinity. This way you will not waste time in the mornings and evenings trying to get from point A to point B.

Another way to save time before you go is to obtain an exhibitor map. Having a visual layout of the conference gives you the chance to plan and prioritize your route around the conference, resulting is less wasted time wandering the floor and back-tracking where you just came from. Also, make room for some changes to your route, as some exhibits and lecture rooms may change once the conference commences.

Some final tips before you step out the door is to solidify travel plans, and when arriving to the destination city, know how to get to your hotel and to the conference. This way no time is wasted getting lost or running late.

When Visiting and Networking with Exhibitors
Make appointments with exhibitors you most want to meet. By doing this you are making sure you are connecting with people that have the most value to you and your business. Also, this way you won’t be stuck waiting behind someone who is taking up the exhibitor’s time.    

Visit the most popular booths at the least crowded times. What times are the least crowded, you may ask? During lunch, evenings, and scheduled classes are the best times to check out these booths, since most of the crowd is preoccupied during these times. When you do catch an exhibitor free of people, check with them for free passes for special events they may be having. It could be for a happy hour, raffle giveaway, or other fun and unexpected rewards.

Take business cards with you to avoid filling out forms. Some exhibitors you will want to keep in touch with may ask for your information. Giving out your business card will save you time and will help avoid accidental misprints (not to mention hand cramps) from filling out forms every time.

When Attending Seminars, Classes and Lectures
Similar to registering early for the conference, make sure to pre-register for lectures and seminars. Popular and interesting seminars and classes will fill up fast, so registering early will save you hassle and stress. As always, know where these are taking place to avoid time-consuming searches around the conference.

Arrive early to seminars and lectures to avoid crowds and standing in line. Find a seat that is close to the exit, therefore when the lecture is finished, you won’t be held behind large groups of people and can easily continue with your next priority.

The Big Picture
It is easy to get swept-up in the commotion and crowds of people during conferences. However, with some time-management skills under your belt, you will be able to better meet your goals and take away a valuable experience from the conference. By setting priorities, planning ahead, and practicing time-saving tips, you will be free to enjoy the conference during your stay, and feel accomplished afterwards.

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