How to get the most out of IT conferences?

G. H. Hardy, a famous mathematician was scheduled to give a keynote speech at a conference. For an advance summary, he said he would present a proof of Fermat's Last Theorem, but it should be kept in secret. As it turned, he spoke on a more prosaic topic. When the conference organizers wondered why he didn’t talk about the theorem, the mathematician replied that it was his standard practice, just in case he would be killed on the way to the conference.

For sure, attending a conference can bring you not only fame, but also pay off for your personal experience and IT career. Here are some tips, which can help you to get the most out of any IT conference.

Plan it!

Success requires planning and persistence. Decide what you want to get out of a conference and plan it ahead to hit all your targets. Any conference attendance is a great career-enhancing opportunity, which will help to learn about the latest technologies and pick up new skills. That’s why you must have clear, concise goals to accomplish for each specific business event.

Connect with people

Invest your time in connecting with other participants. Attending any IT event is more than just handing out and collecting business cards. One of the biggest benefits of any conference is an opportunity to build long-term relationships and maintain connections. A well-planned conference provides workshops, where smaller groups meet and talk about a specific subject of interest. Often they are scheduled beforehand, so you can try your hand in various technologies and fields.

Prepare in advance

Come to a conference prepared. Decide the topics you want to learn about and pick events that are useful and relevant to your goals. You can get online before a conference to review the event agenda, attendee lists and connect with people you want to meet. If you have no plan, then you' will not get any good outcome.

Learn to Network

Attending a conference is the best opportunity to make new connections. In most cases conversations can be more valuable than the sessions, that is why don’t be afraid to network and cooperate with others. Turning conversations into contacts will help you to cultivate new beneficial relationships.

Put yourself out there

Be more engaged in the event. Don’t be afraid to ask smart question, which can really advance the discussion; people will flock to you during the breaks. You can also volunteer at conferences to be more fully engaged.

Put theory into practice

If you're going to conferences to learn about new technologies or processes, write up the information to share with your colleagues. You can also blog or write an article to share your experience. Apply your knowledge and put into action everything you learned, based on the goals you outlined.

Conferences and business trainings are what you make of them. If you don’t have a slightest idea why you’re going, you’re unlikely to get experience out of it. Remember, you get out of a conference as much as you put in.

I hope these tips will help you to get the most out of IT conferences and make it not only useful and productive but also interesting. I wonder what kind of conference would you like to visit not only in terms of organization but in themes and topics as well.

Topic: Career
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I have one tip that I learned the hard way, back when I was a young whippersnapper.  Don't treat conferences like fraternity parties.  It's so easy to meet a few people in the same field as you in the hotel bar, start talking shop, then realize it is 4:00a.m. and you have a $150 bar tab.  Then the next day becomes pretty much a waste, as you are either too tired or hung over to actually engage in anything meaningful.  It sounds obvious, but I've made this mistake, and I see others doing it at every conference I've ever attended.    

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