When I was at my first job fresh out of college, I loved to attend conferences. I got a chance to travel for free, attend exhibits and educational sessions all days long, and go to parties at nights — what a great combination for a single guy! đź™‚ Besides being a single with no family obligation, I also didn’t have laptop, blackberry and wireless connection then.
Things have changed a lot. Nowadays, almost every conference attendee has a laptop with him. Most conferences provide wireless Internet access. You could end up working a lot while you still have to attend the conference.
Below is a list of tips to get most out of conferences, get work done, and not get burned out:
- Although you probably have a blackberry and can check email at any time, you should still create an out-of-office auto reply.
- Set expectation with your colleagues: you should let everyone in the company know that you will be attending a conference. Under-promise them — tell people that unless it’s something super urgent, wait until you’re back to the office.
- Schedule time for conference and time for work. For example, you can allocate 4 hours to attend the conference. Ask myself the hard question: "I only have 4 hours, which sessions should I attend?"
- Find a quiet coffee shop with Internet connection to get your work done. It’d be better if the coffee shop is near the conference venue, but not on site. You should go there to complete the work you must finish. You’ll be much more productive if you can stay away from the conference crowd.
- Eat healthy: skip the junk food at the conference. Drink enough water, eat healthy food on your own.
- Skip the parties: Most conferences starts early in the morning around 8:30 or 9AM. If you attend the parties the night before, you will be very tired the next morning. Remember that you’re at a professional event and you have a lot of sessions to attend and work to complete, you shouldn’t burning the candle at both ends. So, stay sober and go to bed early. It takes some discipline to stay away from the parties, but the next day you’ll find yourself energized and productive.