From 3 to 5 October 2017, Amsterdam is host to the European Utility Week, an annual innovation and information platform for the smart utility community. It’s a place where hundreds experts come together, as well as over 12.000 international visitors. All these people have one thing in common: they want to get the maximum out of their visit. And they know the golden rule to do so: be prepared! We’ve listed 10 tips to help you become the ultimate conference master.
Plan ahead. Before you head down to the conference, take some time to plan your trip. How do I get there? What’s the fastest way to get to the hotel? Is there an official mobile app I can download? Or if you’re the hungry type: where do I get a decent snack, and which exhibitor serves the best free coffee?
Business on top, comfy below. Dress sharp and look professional, but don’t forget the wellbeing of your feet. Bring comfortable shoes, because you’ll be standing up for hours and covering more miles than you think. If you pick the wrong shoes, your feet will hate you halfway day one.
Turn on your network mode. If you want to connect to people, ask yourself: why would someone would want to meet me? What do I have to offer, that will make an lasting impression? Find out as much as you can about the people you want to network with. Look for things you have in common and think of a smart way to start a conversation. They’re no use in talking about the weather, when you’re stick inside for a whole week.
Sell yourself. When someone asks you ‘what do you do?’, you need to have an answer ready that’s instantly interesting, crystal clear and last but not least: funny. Life is too short for boring conversations, and so is a business conference.
You can never have too many phone chargers. Everyone at the conference is packed with smartphones and tablets. When you ’re in a promising conversation and someone’s battery runs out, you can be a live saving hero. Throw all the chargers you can find in your bag – even if they don’t match your own devices – and prepare to make a powerful first impression.
Go easy on the drinks. A glass of alcohol or two, offered by a lovely looking hostess, can be quite tempting. There’s nothing wrong with a tasty beverage once in a while, but you might want to sneak in a few glasses of water as well. Conferences are fun, interesting and useful, but they ‘ll turn into a nightmare if you get drunk and start acting like an idiot. So take it easy.
Provide extra luggage space. One of the great thing about conferences, is you get to collect all kinds of free goodies. Make sure you have a trolley or a discrete bag, to take all the free stuff with you without looking greedy. Don’t use the official conference bag you get at the entrance, it will make you look like a tourist.
Take a break. Attending a conference can be exhausting so don’t forget to grant yourself some me-time in between meetings, Q&A sessions, talks and presentations. Take a walk outside to clear your head or go to a sports bar to watch a football game.
Don’t skip the social activities. Even if you’re dead-beat at the end of a long day, don’t give in to the temptation of throwing yourself onto your hotel bed. A lot of important networking goes on at after-hours events, outside of the busy conference rooms. So have a few drinks in a nearby bar together or get something to eat in a small restaurant. Having an open, enjoyable talk with someone can be much easier while your casually ordering a pizza slice or tasting a local beer.
Stay in touch. Meeting people at a business conference, is a lot like dating. If you like someone and you think the feeling is mutual, don’t let ‘m get away. Send a nice little reminder a couple of days after you met. Re-introduce yourself and refer to something that you said to each other. Keep the momentum going and try to close the deal.