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If you want to get the most out of your conference experience, there are lots of things you can do before you even arrive. In this post, the eLearning Solutions 2019 Guild Ambassadors and the 2019 eLearning Guild Advisor Group share their best ideas for things you can do in the weeks and days leading up to an event so you can ensure you have the best time during it.
Before you leave, set your out-of-office reminder for one day after you returned to give you lots of cover getting email and work requests. Of course you can respond to the important ones, but it gives you an out for the ones that don’t need immediate attention. Bonus points for letting people know where you are and asking them what sessions they would want you to go to if they had the opportunity to be at the conference, too.
From a social point of view, if you’re travelling to a conference alone, use the conference app to find others who are new to the city and/or any who might want to meet other people from their industry for a drink or a bite to eat.
I like to reach out to specific people or groups of people before hand to see if they can meet me for dinner. Those dinners are some of the most helpful meetings to get one on one time with industry experts.
Also making contact on social media with others who are attending is a good way of making you feel like less like a stranger when you arrive. The Guild community has always been so welcoming to me, and the online community has been as much a part of that as making connections face-to-face at the events themselves, so I’d definitely advise people to attend GuildChat and other online discussions in advance to find like-minded people who are going to be there.
If I can, I get to the conference a day or two early to relax. I make it a mini vacation. You don’t realize how much energy a conference can take out of you both mentally (all the conversations and new information) and physically (all the walking).
The simple act of drinking water and eating can get quite expensive when traveling. Before the conference, find a local pharmacy or retail store that sells water by the half-case, which is about the same price as two or three bottles from airport or hotel venues. While at the pharmacy, pick up some yoghurt and fruit for breakfast or instant oatmeal. You can usually find a hot water dispenser in a hotel lobby or run some of your new bottle of water through the in-room coffee maker to whip up a hearty oatmeal breakfast. Pick up some good snacks with protein, dried fruit and nuts, and other portable foods as a possible mid-afternoon booster snack.
There is also a lot of activity starting to happen in the mobile app the week before the conference. A lot of attendees are asking about tips and tricks. It’s a good time to connect, get excited about the conference, offer feedback to new attendees, and see what people are looking forward to the most.