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As you know, no conference would be complete without a good game plan. Some people like to plan out each and every minute of their conference experience. Others like to have a loose structure and go with the flow. Without a doubt, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

For me, I’ve seen my approach change over the years. I’ve gone from the free-flow approach to a more structured one. Then I try to strike a balance by linking up with those folks who seem to have a knack for finding hidden gems.

Here is a sample game plan to get things rolling.

☐    Self-evaluate. What are some of your strengths and weaknesses? What opportunities do you want to take advantage of?

☐    Make a list of workshops that catch your eye. Finalize this with a schedule of workshops you plan to attend over the 3-day period. Be open to changing course as needed.

☐    Make a list of panelists who are working in or conducting research in areas of interest. At the same time, if you have some time, do a little research on different panelists in advance of the conference. You might find some working in areas that overlap with your own interests.

☐    Make a list of companies to visit at the exhibit. Here again, research pays off. What is a company saying about itself in the media? Check Google News to get background on companies. What are employees and the public saying about companies? You might find the culture is amazing or falls short of expectations.

☐    Get off the beaten path! Some of the best conference experiences are from exploring areas that out of your comfort zone. Are you a developer? Try attending a design panel and vice versa. The cross-pollination of ideas could open your eyes to new opportunities and insights.


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