How To Get The Most Out Of A Tech Conference

Do you plan to attend a tech conference? In this article, I will share some of my tips to get the most out of a tech conference as an attendee.

Being a developer for the past 20 years, I’ve attended many conferences. I’m also a conference speaker, and now I’m a partner with several user groups, meetups, and conference organizers in different cities. In this article, I will share my experience as an attendee, my expectations as a speaker, and my thought process as an organizer.

Set specific goals

For any conference you attend, you must set a goal. The goal should be very tangible so that you can evaluate it afterwards. Ask yourself, why are you going to the conference? For example, you can’t tell yourself that you’re going to the conference to learn something new. Try to be very specific. Here is a list of a few tangible goals:

  • I want to learn new features of Angular 5 and Visual Studio 2017
  • I want to learn DevOps implementation in my organization
  • I want to meet a specific speaker
  • I plan to speak at this conference and want to learn from the speakers and organizers

Plan and schedule

Once you know what your goal is, now pay attention to the agenda, topics, and time, and plan your schedule accordingly. Obviously, you want to make sure to attend as many as Angular 5, Visual Studio 2017, and DevOps sessions as you can. After that, you want to check the sessions of the speakers you would like to meet. Then also figure out to attend evening events where speakers and organizers hang out.

If you’re not staying at the conference hotel, you may want to pay attention to the time it takes you to reach the conference and add time for traffic delays.

Be on time and get a good seat. 

Now, you have your own personal agenda. Make sure to mark this agenda in your calendar and set reminders.

Some conferences provide mobile apps to plan your agenda and set reminders and updates. Make sure to download and use the app.

Don’t miss the keynote

The keynote is the most important part of any conference. Most of the keynotes are usually in the morning. Make sure you don’t miss a keynote.

The keynote is the most important part of a conference. 

Conference organizers want everybody to be present at the keynote. This is their showcase where they take photos and use this for future conferences.

Take notes and ask questions

Make sure to take notes throughout the conference and sessions. You can also take notes during the keynote. Don’t assume that you will go home and remember everything. Trust me. Just take notes. Write down all the technologies, speaker names, URLs, website names, and anything that interests you.

Ask questions. 

Most of the speakers have a Q&A. If you have any questions, don’t be shy. Speakers notice that and they appreciate that you were paying attention to their talk.

Meet speakers and connect

To me, meeting and connecting with speakers is the most exciting part of a tech conference. Networking with speakers, asking questions, and connecting with them post conference are vital parts of growing your professional network.

Take selfies and tag speakers on social media. 

Most speakers love to meet new people and answer their questions. Don’t be shy to thank a speaker and tell him what you liked and ask any questions you may have. You may also ask politely to get their business card or connect with them on a social media platform and ask politely if you could drop them a message.

Socialize

This is my favorite part. Most of the conferences have networking and evening parties.

Socialize. 

These are the most important parts of professional networking. This is where you make new friends for life. This is where you may meet your next business partner. This is where you could find your mentor. This is where you could also meet the organizers and get your next speaking gig.

Some conferences have multiple networking events and parties. Your goal should be to attend as many as networking events, meet as many people you can, and connect with them.

Don’t forget to have fun! 

We agree that networking, talking, and perhaps communication are not strong traits of most developers and I highly encourage this: Developers Should Focus On Communication. While at the event, don’t walk in a group with your friends. You can always hang out with your friends. This is your opportunity to open up, say hi and shake hands with new people, learn more about them, listen more and talk less.

Say thank you and follow up

Appreciation is undervalued. I’m not good at appreciating people myself. But the speakers and organizers appreciate when you tell them how they did.

When you compliment a speaker, try to be specific. If you go and tell a speaker, “Thank you, great session,” that is nothing a speaker will remember you for. But if you’re specific about something, for example, “I really like your example of comparing a yellow banana with a red apple for objects,” this speaker will always remember you because he put a lot of work into preparing that talk.

Don’t forget to thank the conference organizers or the person you’re communicating with. This is a big motivator for them.

A few days after the conference, send a thank you note to the speakers and offer feedback about the conference to the conference organizers. After all, you’re not friends with the organizer, and who knows, you may be the next speaker. Don’t forget to read, How To Become A Conference Speaker.

The biggest benefit of a conference

Conferences have changed my life forever, for good. Several of my friends or people I work with, I met at tech conferences. When you meet people at these conferences, you network and make friends. You build a bond and these are your friends for life. Look at the list of speakers coming to the C# Corner Conference in India this year; I met all of them at tech conferences:

http://conference.c-sharpcorner.com/

Summary

To recap the article, here are some tips to get the most out of a tech conference.

  • Set your goals as to what you want to achieve from the conference
  • Plan and set reminders
  • Don’t forget to attend the keynote
  • Take notes throughout the conference and follow up
  • Connect with speakers and write a thank you note
  • Write a thank you note to the conference organizers and give them feedback on what else they could have done to improve your experience

Recommended

Here are some more recommended articles: