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There are many different types of conferences you may travel to: recruiting conferences, networking conferences, or even training conferences! You may start attending conferences as early as high school, and it definitely doesn’t end once you start your “real life” job. Conferences can be stressful, but there are many ways to make your trip easier so you can focus on learning and networking. If you are traveling to a conference, here are 5 tips to keep in mind.
1. Assume that you will go out.
A faux-pas during one of my first business conferences was that I assumed we would all go to bed once the day was done. I didn’t pack any clothes other than my business suits and pajamas. No – people party hard at conferences! Even if you are an introvert, it is a great networking opportunity to either go to dinner with colleagues or to go explore the city that you are in. Pack casual clothes for leaving the hotel. My wardrobe typically includes dress shirts which can be dressed down by untucking and rolling up the sleeves. You will also want to ensure you have shoes that are fit for walking outside.
2. Bring a notepad and business cards.
Many people will try to take notes on their laptops, but laptops can be distracting. They are bulky, and you are not always guaranteed an outlet for charging or a table to place your laptop on. It is much handier to be able to take notes in a notebook, so don’t forget to pack one along with a few extra pens. Also make sure to pack business cards, for networking with your fellow attendees. Even if you are a student, you can get business cards printed with your name, email, phone number and LinkedIn URL.
3. Keep track of your expenses.
Ideally either your company, school or conference coordinators will be reimbursing you for any of your expenses. Any money that you spent traveling to the conference (like Ubers or taxis), or eating while traveling, may be reimbursed. Check your company’s conference travel policy before you leave, to ensure you are aware of what guidelines are in place. The Road Warrior Handbook includes an expenses checklist, which will remind you which receipts to keep track of.
4. Save contact information to your phone.
The conference you attend will give you a contact individual, should you have any issues while traveling. Save this person’s contact information to your phone, along with the address of your hotel. You will not want to spend time looking up this information if in a pinch – it will be useful to have these details handy. If you are traveling with coworkers, save their contact information to your phone as well. If you have any registration IDs or hotel reservation numbers, ensure the information is saved to a note.
5. Keep in touch afterwards.
One of the biggest benefits of attending a conference is the opportunity to network with your peers. You don’t want to lose your connections! You may have collected a lot of business cards, but they will get lost. Immediately add all of your new connections on LinkedIn, and personalize your connection message with how you met and any other facts that you remember about your conversation. LinkedIn is an excellent way to keep in touch, as you’ll get to see what your peers are up to without the hassle of reaching out every few weeks.
As an introvert, I can understand that conferences are stressful and energy draining. However, if you put in the effort to prepare for your conference and to take advantage of everything that it offers, you can spend the following week relaxing!
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