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The ultimate guide to attending a conference (and making the most of it)
Are you also excited about the imminent end of summer, fewer hours of sunshine and increased workload ahead? Let's not kid ourselves; we are definitely going to miss the lazy days of summer and a more carefree atmosphere at work.
On a more positive note, the start of the school year brings out new business opportunities in the form a number of industry conferences being held at some of the world's fanciest locations.
Here's our step-by-step guide to becoming perfectly prepared for a B2B conference:
1. What's my intention?
Are you attending to refine your skills, build relationships, make sales, or do you just need to get away from the office?
In case you think your current job is just a transitional position, feel free to simply enjoy the atmosphere and fun features of the event.
However, if you're actually trying to achieve something valuable in your field, make sure you invest your energy properly and soak up all the possible knowledge, learn new skills and build meaningful connections.
2. Pick a topic according to your needs
There is nothing worse than aimlessly spending your educational budget on something your company won't benefit from. Focus on the targets, whether they are short-term or long-term, and pick a topic that will keep you interested throughout the two (or more) days of the event.
Are your needs too specific and none of the conferences covers them properly? You might have a look at tailor-made in-house trainings, where you pick not only the exact set of topics but also the time and location.
3. Dress accordingly but memorably
Opt for a distinct style that will make people remember you. Are you a fan of scarfs, colorful ties or necklaces? Do not slip into uniformity just because you think this is a formal business event. Don't pretend to be somebody you're not. However, the opposite also applies – you're not there to cause any outrage :)
4. It takes three contacts before people are aware that you exist.
Meaning not just shaking hands and exchanging business cards. Do you have published work or cases you'd like to go through? Bring some tangible proof with you and present your qualities, take advice, discuss and leave enriched with new perspectives.
5. Improve your experience but don't get too caught up
Much of the networking and communicating that goes on at conferences now happens via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Follow, hashtag, tweet, share – this is definitely going to be very useful. But don't forget that face-to-face interaction is what really matters.
6. The good old follow up
This has been said many times, but we cannot forget to mention this important issue once again. Sometimes, all it takes is adding somebody on LinkedIn or following him on Twitter. Take the time to write a short message, ask them how they've been or exchange mutual photos from the conference. Your future is created by connecting the dots of the past.
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Mr Thibault Paquin is an experienced hospitality, leisure and tourism business development professional. He is also the founder and CEO of Celebrating Life, an independent consultant and development company for the leisure & entertainment industry in Asia. He has 9 years of experience as a manager in a multinational and 7 years as a consultant and entrepreneur. Educated in France and the United States, he holds a Master from the prestigious Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC), France. Read on about his views on the theme park sector in the region.