The conference has several different networking opportunities. Newcomers can introduce themselves during the first-time attendee orientation. Students and young professionals can enjoy their very own reception. A networking break also takes place from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 18 on the second level of the convention center. And of course, be sure to pack your business cards. (Need to brush up on your networking skills? See some of our past blogs on how to network.)
Before you even pack your business cards, however, you need to plan how you’ll spend your time during the conference. Which sessions do you want to attend? And during the expo, which companies will you target? For the latter, IFMA offers a scheduling tool. You can use it to book time with the vendors you’d most like to speak with (Sidenote: OfficeSpace will be exhibiting). You can also create your own customized schedule, based on the sessions you’d like to attend.
If you’re flying solo at the conference, you’ll have to decide which sessions would be the most helpful to you. If you’re attending the conference with your coworkers, however, you have the advantage of strength in numbers. Instead of being forced to choose between several sessions being held at once, assign each person a session and make them responsible for sharing what they learned with the group at a later time.
You’ll likely collect a lot of paper as you make your way through the expo. Bring a briefcase or bag and a folder or two so you can keep all those brochures and business cards in one centralized place. Also be sure to have some pens and a notepad with you for jotting down notes and contact information.
In addition to bringing the necessary supplies with you, prepare for the event by double-checking the schedule and maps for the event. Things may change at the last minute. Some vendors who were scheduled to exhibit may not show up. Others who weren’t on the roster may be making an appearance. Events scheduled for 11 a.m. may be canceled or moved to a different time. Check these details as soon as you can so that you can plan accordingly if there are changes.
At the end of each day, look over the notes you took during educational sessions and conversations with vendors. Most likely, some of what you’ve written will only be half-formed thoughts; now is the best time to fill in those gaps. Later, you might not be able to remember the information well enough to do so. You may also want to use this time to organize business cards or brochures; sort through the former by scanning cards with your smartphone, and the latter by categorizing based on service or product.
Big conferences like this one can be overwhelming at first glance. But as long as you spend a little time preparing beforehand, you can make the most of your conference experience and stay collected and organized throughout.
If you’re an IFMA World Workplace veteran, what sort of tricks have you found helpful in the past?
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles