Now that you have joined some professional or job-oriented groups, don’t forget to be you best by preparing in advance.
Here are some tips. Add on as you think of more!!
Conference purposes (reminder):
- The exchange of professional information (e.g., research, practice tips, opportunities and much more)
- Making friends (You’ll meet a lot of folks with similar interests and training. You can have lots of fun at these meetings…with which you don’t need more assistance J.)
- Review the agenda or program in advance to map out sessions to attend or people to meet.
- Draft a personal agenda of sessions to attend and personal meetings to make (on time).
- Contact folks you know or may want to meet who may also attend and arrange networking meetings around breakfast, breaks, lunches, etc.
- Update your resume and online professional profiles (e.g., on the organizations website or LinkedIn).
- Take copies of your resume and/or business cards (print and electronic).
- Get ready to not be shy, i.e., to introduce yourself to professionals in the field who may have opportunities for you or are engaged in work of interest to you.
- Prepare questions to ask people you want to meet to start conversations.
- Prepare…wait for it…your elevator speech, i.e., be prepared to give a quick summary of your background and/or professional interests and goals in 1-3 minutes.
- Don’t forget to thank people for their time and follow up with an email when you want to pursue the connection.
- Wear business casual or regular business attire (yes, that means no jeans). Ok, if your professional group is more casual, you can wear jeans. Links to past conferences usually have pictures that can give you an idea of the attire or you can call the main office for the group and ask. Of course, some sessions (e.g., interviews) require particular attire. In sum, bring a variety of attire so that you can fit with particular events or sessions.
- Bring something to take notes. Conferences can be great places to learn about new ideas. They can also be a great time to daydream about problems you need to resolve or create to-do lists…discretely of course.
Regardless of your professional interests, conferences and group meetings can be energizing and inspirational. You will be surrounded by folks who are motivated and excited by their professional interests and want to talk about them and learn more. In sum, think about how your interests and new and creative ideas and don’t be shy about sharing them.