Do you remember how you felt on the first day at a new school? If you were like me, it was equal parts anxiety, dread, and disorientation. Lots of people milling around, and they all seemed to know each other, but I didn’t know any of them.
It was similar the first time I went to a conference. I was rushed through the check-in line, given my badge and attendee bag, and just pushed on to figure things out. I didn’t know who was who – it was a blur of nametags racing by me.
But where were they all going? I had no idea. I felt like I was a stranger in a strange land.
One big problem was that I went into the whole thing without a plan. I just showed up and expected I’d just magically get it. My lack of advance planning made the time spent there, as well as the money for the trip, into a big waste.
When I got back to the office, I told the boss how lame it was, and how I wouldn’t recommend returning next year.
The next time I was sent to a conference, I made sure to do some homework in advance to figure out who I might want to meet, as well as educational sessions that might benefit me. It was a far more worthwhile use of my time.
Over the years, I’ve worked up lots of strategies and learned things from other folks to get the maximum value from attending conferences.
And the result is ConferenceHack.com – an ongoing blog of conference and travel advice. Some of it has been sitting in my head and other stuff is being shared as I think of it.