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March 31, 2009

Ten Rules for Conference Attendees

With the ABA's Techshow and the LMA Annual Conference kicking off in tandem this week, I thought it was a good time to revisit a list I did a few years ago about attending conferences.  Here are my Ten Rules for Conference Attendees:
1.  The amount of preparation you do before the conference is directly proportional to the benefits you'll receive after it.

2.  Never attend a conference without at least three questions you want answered.  Never leave until they have been.

3.  Your ability to pay attention to conference speakers and attendees is inversely proportional to your ability to pay attention to the outside world.  If you can’t leave the real world behind for an hour or two, please don’t leave it at all.

4.  The most important people at the conference are sitting next to you.  They are like you.  They can help you.  Ignore them at your peril.

5.  Vendors know your industry and the other attendees better than you do.  Talk with them.  Learn from them.  Then take a few pens.

6.  A conference rolls thousands of first impressions into a three-day period.  Be kind, listen well, don’t dress like a slob, and pick up the tab every once in a while.

7.  Don’t go to a conference until you can answer -- in less than 5 seconds -- the question, “What do you do?”

8.  Don’t tell someone you’ll follow up unless you intend to.  Breaking the first promise you make to someone makes them believe you’ll break others, too.

9.  The only thing you need at most conferences is an exhibit hall pass.  The true value of the event is in the conversations and not the presentations.  Forget the sessions, hang out in the hallway (and the bar) and listen.  A lot.

10.  Knowing someone online is not the same as knowing them in person.  Don’t assume that someone you follow on Twitter, friended on Facebook and linked to on LinkedIn knows who the hell you are.  Introduce yourself as if you’re a stranger, make friends the old fashioned way and your relationship will be stronger as a result.
You can read the rest of my 10 Rules Posts here.  I'll see you at the next event!


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This is a good primer on how to approach conferences. Thanks!

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