You may remember today’s author, Vyacheslav “Stan” Khrapak, from a post in September, “CSU Global Enrollment Counselor Receives Rising Star Award.” Stan was honored with the 2016 Rising Star Award from the Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) at an annual ACHE Conference in October. Serving as a representative of CSU Global, Stan took full advantage of attending the conference to both further his own professional development, and contribute to the work he does at CSU Global. Today Stan is sharing the benefits of conference attendance and showing you how to take advantage of these industry-specific “meeting of the minds.” Keep reading to see why you should attend a conference and how to get the most out of these exciting opportunities.
tips for attending a conference
Most organizations provide opportunities for employees to further their education and grow professionally. Not only does it benefit the company to have invested employees with a range of skills, but you, the employee, can also add something new to your resume. Of course internal trainings are an excellent way to develop or refine a new skill, but they’re also limited by the resources available to the company. In addition to company-sponsored trainings, you can also broaden your horizons by attending a professional conference outside of the workplace. There you can gain exposure to external influences, make meaningful connections, and bring back valuable ideas and strategies to your company. If you have never been to a professional conference, consider the following insights and benefits of attending to help you excel in your current or future career.

Planning Your First Conference Tour

Hundreds of thousands of conferences take place each year across the globe and choosing the right one can be challenging. Price, distance, and event theme will have an influence on which conference is best for your goals, industry, and role. Once you narrow your conference choice, you’ll need to develop a detailed plan to make sure you get the full benefits of attending the conference. First off, before even getting to the event, take these initial planning steps…
  • Research the presenters and presentations to identify the most valuable and relevant content for you.
  • Review the schedule and map of the conference center so you have a clear idea of how your day will be laid out.
  • Download the conference’s mobile app or digital schedule and synchronize it your professional calendar. This lets your colleagues know that you won’t be available during the conference.
  • Turn on notifications for conference alerts so you can stay up-to-date with the latest happenings.
Once you arrive at the conference you might be surprised at how much information is provided in each session, sometimes an overwhelming amount. Plan to take vigorous notes so you can review the information later. Bring your laptop or tablet to best keep up and access anything that may already be available digitally. Many presenters will also offer presentation materials to attendees after the conference. Be prepared to exchange business cards so you get the information sent to you later.

Networking and Relationship Building

One of the greatest benefits of attending a conference is meeting new people. People from across the country, perhaps the world, may be in attendance. It’s in your best interest to make as many meaningful connections as you can. These relationships could have the potential to one day alter the trajectory of your career. Relationships don’t necessarily have to develop at formally organized sessions. Oftentimes, conferences foster a friendly atmosphere that invites organic interaction. Follow these networking tips while you attend:
  • Talk to people outside of the sessions. Chat in between events in the hallway, while waiting for lunch, and during down time. You never know who you’re going to meet.
  • Attend after-hours events. Sometimes conferences host a happy hour, dinner, or late-night event. Even if it’s not specifically your scene, it can be a great place to create informal connections.
  • Don’t be scared. Everyone is there for the same reason: to further their career. Whether that’s by learning a new skill, gaining a new perspective, or creating a new connection, it takes interaction.

I urge any first-time conference goer to take full advantage of the welcoming environment of the event. Conference networking opportunities are indispensable for professionals in all stages of their careers.

Therefore, I urge any first-time conference goer to take full advantage of the welcoming environment of the event. Conference networking opportunities are indispensable for professionals in all stages of their careers. Conferences, big or small, bring people together who share a common goal and promote connectivity among attendees. Companies and employees often recognize the immense benefits of conference attendance and may support employees who want to attend an event specific to their role. Speak to your organization about receiving reimbursement or sponsorship to cover the cost of attending a conference. Be clear about how the conference you want to attend can benefit both you and the organization as a whole. If you’d like to participate as a speaker at a conference become a CSU Global Advocate! With our Outreach Advocates Program, you may be eligible for up to $100 for reimbursement for conference related expenses.