Getting the Most out of a Professional Conference

PRPS Fall Mtg17-4. RasmussenProfessional educational conferences offer a wide array of opportunities to enhance your vocation, but it is often easy to miss out if you don’t plan ahead!  Here are some tips to help:

Before you go:

Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead.  Look at the guide – in print, on-line, or via the app (most conferences use one now).  Plan out an agenda for all of the sessions and events that you wish to attend.

1. Plan back up sessions in case your first choice gets cancelled, or is too full, or is a dud.  Be willing to be flexible.

2.  Plan some sessions outside of your primary work focus area – there are some great ideas out there that span vocations!

3.  Create a wish list of solutions that you’re looking for at your job – and actively seek out people who could help you solve those issues at the conference.

4.  Take a stack of business cards to hand out.  It’s a quick and easy way to make a connection with someone.

Once you’re there:

1.  Re-visit your agenda after you arrive to confirm your planned sessions and schedule.

2.  Be social.  I’ve learned just as much by networking and talking to peers at the social events as I have from the educational sessions.  Get out of your comfort zone if you’re not an extrovert by nature.

3.  Go to available vendor socials – they usually get a good venue and will buy you food (and drink).  They also have a great insight into current trends and coming attractions.

4.  Have a strategy to tackle the exhibit hall.  Understand that many vendors are also very knowledgeable in their field and are excellent resources.  They are there to sell themselves and their products, but they also WANT to talk to you about their industry!

5.  Plan to take a second look at the exhibit hall – there’s so much going on, you probably missed something good the first time around.

6.  Get out of your hotel room.  Explore your area.  Get more out of your visit than just the conference.

Once you get home:

1. Review your notes and sort through your literature as soon as possible.  Tackle this before you forget important ideas or connections.

2.  Cement and move on the good ideas and follow up with project leads.  Schedule time to implement your solutions.

3.  Follow up with any connections that you made – confirm contact information and proceed with projects.

Remember that you have a limited time – maximize the opportunities.  6 months from now you won’t remember a nap, and you won’t remember sitting in the hotel room watching TV.  You WILL remember the extra time at a social, the extra session, the extra vendor you talked to.  Make it count.

Watch for more details to come soon about the Annual PRPS Conference & Expo on April 2-5, 2019 at the Penn Stater Conference Center, State College. Registration will be open in November. Expo spaces are still available but are beginning to fill up. Reserve your booth soon! You can find more information at www.prps.org/2019Conference.

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Author: Todd Roth

Todd has been the Aquatics Supervisor for Centre Region Parks and Recreation for the past 15 years.

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