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How to get the most out of a conference

20/09/2017

​Praxity conferences are an opportunity to join fellow professionals from around the world, to share expertise, hear from top experts and get fit for future challenges.  Great speakers, stimulating content, new ideas and different perspectives.

Although technology has made it easier to interact across great distances and time zones, face-to-face interaction has never been more valuable. Conferences are a chance to share and build new skills and insights, strengthen existing links, forge new ones, enhance client service and foster new business opportunities.  

So, how do you get the most out of a conference without missing out or burning out?  

It's important to do more than simply show up, attend sessions, and then go home. Not being prepared for conferences can lead to missed opportunities, both professionally and personally. 

You are making an investment in yourself and your business by attending. You’re spending time and money, losing earning potential, so you need to have some clear goals – what do you want to accomplish, taking full advantage of what’s on offer? 

Here is our Executive Office Conference Team’s pick of the tips. 

Whether alone or with a group of co-workers, you need a plan!

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Start early

Taking advantage of early bird pricing helps you, and it helps us.  It saves you money, we can plan more effectively, it ensures we can get you into the conference hotel and also means there’s the chance of reduced price travel for you too. Take a good look at the terms and conditions to make sure you understand the requirements for confirmation or cancellation and payment – this will help prevent any difficulties when you arrive.

Before the conference, review the schedule for any sessions you think are a ‘must attend’. If you have empty time slots you can plan to spend them with contacts or colleagues, or one of the Praxity Conference Team who are always happy to chat or help. 

It’s never too soon to prepare – you can think about those people you would really like to meet or get to know better, and you book time to do that.  You can send them an introductory email.  You’ll be able to access all delegates’ contact details from the conference section of the Praxity website beforehand, and directly via the Praxity app during the conference, so make sure you download that in good time.

While you’re there 

Planned plenary sessions, keynotes and workshops are vital because they provide the information, insight and inspiration you need.  But the non-technical time in between – receptions, conference dinners, even time in the circulating areas or the coffee queue – offers opportunities to connect with other delegates.

Conferencing with co-workers can be a good way to bond, but don’t spend most of your time with people you already know, missing out on making new contacts and even friends. You may sometimes want to attend sessions as a group, at other times splitting up and attending different ones. Mealtimes can be good for coming together and sharing what you’ve learned. A lot of people find it hard to strike up conversation with individuals who are with a group of familiar contacts or co-workers and you can help by making your group inclusive and welcoming – you might even decide that certain mealtimes are ideal for networking, and all sit at different tables. Setting a goal to bring someone else you meet to a reception or meal is also an excellent way to widen your circle of contacts and deepen relationships with people you meet. 

What’s crucial is a plan of action to maximize the conference experience for the whole team.

Ask a lot of questions

Learning is interactive – so ask questions. People will be happy to help and you should feel comfortable talking to speakers, organisers, and other delegates.  Ask for their views on current issues, ideas for dealing with clients, advice on ways of working, even books, blogs and websites they find useful. 

Make the most of it, for everyone’s sake

Networking isn’t all about creating new connections and conferences are equally useful for reinforcing existing relationships.  Conference dinners and receptions are ideal for achieving both goals. The Women in Tax reception at the start of the Global Tax & Fiscal conference in Lisbon brought people together in the name of shared experiences and interests, while the following conference drinks and dinner provided an ideal opportunity for long-standing friends and colleagues to reacquaint themselves.

In short, conferences are what you make of them. While the sessions may provide new ideas, often the most valuable takeaways come from the conversations you have with other people attending and the connections you make. 

What about me? 

Conferences can be exhausting, especially if you’re not really an extrovert, and it’s easy to lose sight of self-care when you’re busy. Don’t neglect your own well-being and try to do something restorative. We always look for beautiful locations for our conferences, to give delegates the chance to have restful moments away from the day-to-day. It would be sad if the only part of the city you remember is the inside of the venue, however spectacular that might be.

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And for afters?

Hopefully you made some great connections, enjoyed yourself and have some potential business opportunities or insightful solutions to show for it. But if you don’t follow up afterwards and keep communication going you may be quickly forgotten. You want to stay connected so that when someone needs your advice, support or has a collaborative opportunity, you are the first person they think of. The Praxity app is an ideal way to keep in touch and set up contacts during and after the conference, and the conference section of the Praxity website can help with connections once it’s over.

Anything else? Yes, please help with evaluation when you’re given the chance and there are also often CPE forms that ensure you get the credits you’ve earned.

Oh, and can we have our badge back, please?

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