Three tips to get the most out of a convention

Convention are something I look forward to all year. It is a time to see old faces and catch up with colleges and friends in my industry. I think they can be a wonderful tool to help teams grow and develop. I have been attending them in one form or another for over a decade and this time around I thought I would share my top three tips to maximize your convention experience.

Tip number one: Network

This should be a no brainer. With so many people attending you can’t help but run into others who like you share a passion for what the conference is all about. Take a moment and introduce yourself and swap business cards. I try to sit by someone I don’t’ know at each session and talk to them about why they choose this session out of all the ones available. This usually leads to a talk about trends or issues they are facing and allows me to learn what issues or problems others in the field are facing. It also allows me to share success stories we have or learn how others have solved an issue.

Another great time to network is during breaks and at lunch take a moment and sit with someone and learn about why they decide out of all the conventions they choose this one to come to. I learn so much about others with this simple question. It also allows you to share why you are there and make a new contact.

Tip number two: Talk to vendors

Ok hear me out on this one. For the most part each convention has an area where vendors can set up and talk to convention goers and try to sell their wares. And also get some sweet loot while you are there. It also allows you to connect with vendors and create a relationship with them. Some vendors I have used all during my career and it’s nice to see them. THey let me know what is coming down the pipeline and I can plan accordingly. But I also like to see the trends that all the vendor seem to be working towards. It helps to see where the industry is headed. Also there is usually a sweet deal on their wares so you can get some things at a bargain price.

Tip number three: Team building

This one for me is a huge benefit. For years now I have been able to take my full time staff to a conference every year. And one of the best benefits that comes form it is the bonding we do as a group. There is something to spending time as a team in an environment that doesn’t have deadlines or endless meetings. We try to meet up once during the day and share what things we have learned.

So what are your tips for having a successful convention experience. Share them in the comments below.

Steve leads the Learning & Professional Development team, with over a decade of Instructional Design and professional development experience in higher education at Northern Arizona University.

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