5 Common Mistakes When Attending Conferences

Friday, October 26, 2012 - 3:37pm

By doing your homework you can take away more valuable info and really listen to the message being delivered. It's also a good idea to brush up on who will be attending and why they are relevant to the industry so you can network effectively.

Staying Offsite

Though it might be tempting to save some money by booking a hotel "just a little ways away" from the conference site, think twice. Will ground transportation be reliable enough to get you where you need to go on time in the morning? What if you forget something in your room that you need for the afternoon? How late can you get a ride back to your hotel room if you stay for a networking event or evening session? Plus by staying offsite you have the potential to miss untold networking opportunities - whether it's a gathering of industry folks in the lounge or an industry leader riding an elevator with you.

Forgetting Business Cards

Don't be the guy who has to scribble his name and phone number on a ratty cocktail napkin. You will meet people you want to keep in touch with whether for business or personal reasons. Business Management Daily suggests you pack plenty of business cards and then grab another handful before you close your suitcase. It's also a good idea to prepare a set of business cards with additional information like a cell phone number or linked in profile address. Don't miss valuable opportunities because you don't have a card, or a pen, or a stable surface to write on. Everyone from pastors like Ed Young to real estate moguls like Donald Trump know the rules of self-promotion and marketing tactics to up their name and awareness.

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Nothing will ruin your opportunities for networking and overall success faster than being overheard saying nasty, thoughtless or catty things about your colleagues. You never know who might overhear you trashing the last presenter while you get a refill on your coffee. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all - it's the golden rule for a reason!

Dressing Inappropriately

Conferences are as much about networking as they are about learning. Don't show up in a battered t-shirt and jeans if everyone else will be wearing polished polos. If suits are de rigueur, put the golf shirt away for another day. Writer's Digest says that if you want to be taken seriously start by presenting yourself well. Look presentable.

Secondly: layer, layer, layer. Temperatures can fluctuate in meeting rooms and break areas. Being uncomfortable makes it hard to focus so don't get into a situation where you are shivering instead of learning.

Social No-No's

Same goes for social media, and doubly so since what you put online can be shared quickly and mercilessly. Don't burn bridges with inane negative comments. If you have a legitimate critique there will be an appropriate time and place to share it. This isn't it. Getting in an all-out Twitter war or Facebook wall battle with someone or another company won't do anything to help your image. We can't all be Kanye West.

Jan Whitaker of Write Angles says that going into a conference with an attitude and feeling that the world is against you won't help your networking in the slightest. Everyone is treated fairly, and knowing you're on the same level as everyone will keep the playing field fair and open.


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