by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

Conferences can be a great place to learn and make connections that will serve you well your entire wellness career. Here are some tips to maximize the experience:

  • Confirm arrangements early. You’ll get the first shot at popular workshops, discounted registrations, and convenient hotel accommodations. You’ll also have more time to decide how to delegate what needs handling while you’re gone.
  • Determine what you want from the conference. With 5-7 tracks, 60 or more speakers, and dozens of social functions it’s easy to allow the experience to become aimless. Stick to 2-3 themes for more focused learning. 
  • Consider your last experience. What went well and why? What didn’t, and what can you do to change it this time? 
  • Pack light. Wellness conferences give away lots of stuff, so leave room in your suitcase. Consider shipping materials too heavy to lug through airports.
  • Make a plan. Use the conference’s mobile app if it has one and schedule the sessions you’ll attend in your calendar. If you’re unsure, call the speaker before the conference; ask friends and experienced attendees for recommendations. Schedule meeting times and places with colleagues to be sure you don’t miss each other.
  • Be easy to meet. Wear your name tag to all functions. Introduce yourself to speakers and those seated next to you at sessions. Share your business card liberally.
  • Participate. If you’re new to a conference, be sure to attend breakfasts, exercise activities, and roundtable discussion groups. These events are usually smaller, less formal, and easier forums for getting to know others.
  • Visit exhibits. Vendors help keep conference costs down, and there’s always something you can learn from their offer, even if you aren’t buying today.
  • Organize before, during, and after the conference. Sticking to your reasons for attending, prepare file folders you’ll use to store notes.
  • Review notes and discussions at the end of each day. Schedule to-do activities for the next week so you’re sure to follow through with what you’ve learned.

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