How to Get the Most from an Innovation Conference

Conferences play an important role in professional life. Attending conferences relevant to your area of expertise can help you broaden your network, learn new things, and demonstrate innovation leadership.

Woman at a conference holding a flyer.

It can be tempting to think of a conference as a sort of vacation, and there’s no question that it’s nice to break out of your routine now and then. However, conferences aren’t for rest and relaxation; they’re for becoming a more confident, connected professional. 

On the other hand, it can be tempting to demand too much from the conference. Even if you attend every session, talk to people at every opportunity, take notes and squeeze every drop of experience you can from the event, it won’t fix your career or turn around a struggling company. You’re likely to wear yourself out before the conference is over, potentially missing out on insights you could have gained had you paced yourself. 

Here are some tips for getting the most from an innovation conference.

Do These Things to Maximize Your Experience

First, it’s important to understand why you’re attending. Are you there primarily to make new contacts, to give a presentation on behalf of your company, or to learn about new technology? You’ll probably do all those things, but remember your primary purpose for being there. In fact, it’s smart to set two or three goals for your conference experience and refer to them often. 

Let people in your network know that you’ll be there, and if there are specific people you want to meet, look them up on LinkedIn or other social media in advance so you’ll know a little something about them before introducing yourself.

Choose which sessions to attend strategically. Are they educational, personally meaningful, or representative of a new interest of yours? Listen well and take notes. If the conference has a dedicated app, use it! Such apps help you plan your conference experience optimally.

Some Things to Avoid

If you’re traveling with co-workers, don’t spend the entire conference with them. Use the conference as the great opportunity it is for building new connections and strengthening existing ones with people you don’t see every day. 

Woman sitting down with a cup of coffee.

Don’t plan every minute of every day. Most people need some downtime, and building some flexibility into your schedule could lead you to a session you never knew would be so valuable. The session you attend on a hunch could introduce you to a new valuable contact, or a new technology in which your company may become interested. 

Finally, don’t be fake, or try to put on a radically different persona for the conference. Be your authentic, professional self. After all, that’s the person with whom your new contacts will potentially be working. 

Upcoming Innovation Conferences

If you’re looking for conferences that are designed to promote innovation leadership, here are some upcoming events for later in 2019:

Future Festival, October 1-3 in Toronto

Hosted by Trend Hunter, this conference is about next-level trends and consumer insights and is where the top innovators in the world prototype their future. 

Fast Company Innovation Festival, November 4-8 in New York City

This fifth annual innovation festival includes thousands of innovators from around the world and promises five days of inspired conversation and networking. The theme this year is “A Connected World.”

Open Nation 2019, Oct. 24-25 in Washington, DC

This invitation-only event is for top-performing IdeaScale administrators and moderators to learn from other experts in innovation leadership. 

Conferences are outstanding opportunities to learn, network, and expand your horizons, especially in the area of innovation leadership. If you’re ready to learn how to put innovation to work and get real results, we encourage you to learn how to start an IdeaScale community.

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