There are a plethora of reasons why you should attend a professional conference in your field or industry. Below are some reasons why attending a conference can be a benefit to your professional development and more:
You will expand skills, learn more about the job, and discover industry-specific knowledge that can help you grow personally and professionally.
You will meet thought-leaders within the industry or topic of the conference – to ask questions, share ideas and expand on what is covered.
You will have the opportunity to network with people in your industry.
You will meet people in person whom you have made connections with through social media and industry online platforms
You will learn from the experiences of your peers and colleagues
You will learn about valuable resources relevant to your business or career.
You will gain insights and ideas that you can use to establish/increase your credibility and expertise such as writing articles, books and other media.
By attending you will show your peers that you have a commitment to your profession as well as find opportunities to give back, such as volunteer positions.
You will get the opportunity to visit interesting new locations where the conference is being held.
You will learn something new you can immediately implement in your business or career.
You will get a chance to connect with sponsors and other supporters of the conference. You will also be able to see who your competitors are first-hand, learn more about their businesses, discover their strengths and weaknesses, all of which can add to your business’s competitive edge.
You will meet with and market to potential customers and clients who are also interested in the same benefits and outcomes of attending the conference.
How to Prepare for a Conference
Now assuming you are fully convinced on attending your next conference, considering all the benefits listed above, let’s talk about a few ways you can prepare so you can get the most of it
Before you head into a conference, be sure you do your research on what the conference is about, where it is, what the dress code looks like, who will be speaking, and what sessions you’d like to attend once you’re there. This can save you some confusion or embarrassment later on. Also, find out how to get there and if it’s in a different city find out how to get there from your hotel. If you are staying in the same hotel as the conference, try to get a hotel map so you know how to get to the conference halls from your room.
Plan what to wear:
Scared you won’t know what to wear? If the conference you’re going to is an established one, check out the website and find pictures to see what people are wearing. If you’re not able to check the website or the conference social media for photos, feel free to email the organizers and ask. Most conferences have established websites where you can check all the information you need months ahead of the healthcare industry’s top conferences the Healthcare Analytics Summit. Or, if you’re just hoping to wing it, I suggest finding a go-to outfit that can easily be dressed up or dress down. For guys, if you are unsure, pack a suit and some dress shirts and also some corporate casual pants so depending on the dress code you can always dress your look up or down. For women, bring a dress and a blazer with some high heels and a pair of flats. Also, bring a dress shirt that you can pair with a pencil skirt.
Pack some go-to items in your handbag or briefcase that you’ll need every day. Suggestions on what to put in this kit is your charger, a notebook and pen for taking notes, a business card (this is very important for networking), a bottle of water, snacks and your conference ID.
Some final tips to keep in mind: make sure you are ready to network and make friends during the conference. Be confident and don’t bad mouth your company while you are there. Also if you are there representing your employer, doesn’t start campaigning for other job offers. This will make you look bad and may cost you your current job.