The biggest takeaways from a Chicago conference are the contacts and new relationships you made. Knowing how to attend a conference and network with others can help you with your career. To get the most out of the business conferences and meetings you’ll be attending, it’s important to plan ahead. The following tips will help you make the most out of your business conference.
Set Clear Goals & Objectives
It’s important to have goals and objectives for attending the conference. Most conferences move at rapid speeds these days. It can be hard to keep up with them, especially if you’re not prepared. People are quickly moving from conversation to conversation, event to event, session to session, and person to person. Conferences are similar to mixers in which people don’t waste time getting to know each other.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Set clear goals and objectives beforehand and list out whom you want to meet, which sessions you want to attend, and what you want to take away from the event. Come up with a plan and a schedule so you don’t miss out on anything important, and be sure to factor in travel time, breaks, and some downtime for the unexpected.
Stay in the Same Hotel That the Conference is Held
It’s likely that activities, dinners, and networking events will take place at that specific hotel or nearby. Most of the attendees, panelists, and speakers will be staying there as well. A chance to meet one of these people in the gym, lobby, or restaurant can help you strike a conversation and lead to opportunities for some good networking at the conference. You want to book your hotel room as soon as you get the details of the conference.
While there are hotels near Chicago Convention Center, you definitely want to stay in the same hotel as the conference. The Hyatt Regency McCormick Place is just steps away from Soldier Field and Wintrust Arena in Chicago’s South Loop. Each room has technology and productivity-enhancing features complete with a Jack Pack technology hub. Featured amenities for business professionals include business services, concierge service, free internet access, laundry facilities, and meeting facilities. If the Hyatt is full, also consider the Hilton Chicago. It’s also located downtown, close to McCormick Place. It has a popular on-site bar / restaurant. The Hilton also offers residential suites if you’re traveling with a larger group or just want to upgrade your accommodations.
If there are certain attendees, speakers, or vendors you hope to meet, then do your research ahead of time. Read their latest blog posts, books, or social media accounts. Search for news on these experts and their companies. Reach out to them on social media and engage in conversations that will lead up to the conference. Jot down some notes and have your comments and questions prepared ahead of time.
Choose the Right Sessions
Most of the business conferences in Chicago have a wide variety of sessions to choose from. There’s so many that you might get overwhelmed. As you look over your schedule, look at the conference as a whole. Determine the events and sessions you want to check out, and make sure you’re able to attend a wide range of skill-building sessions and topics.
You also want to make room for some downtime. A business conference involves using your time wisely and getting the most out of your experience.
Connect with the Speakers
The panelists and speakers are industry leaders. These are the people you want to get to know. Say hello and ask questions. Hang out a few minutes after each session to tell them your thoughts on the presentation and get their contact information. If you didn’t get the chance to introduce yourself in person, you can always follow up on social media.
There are going to be hundreds of conferences in Chicago. To make the most out of each one, use the above tips and you won’t be disappointed with your experience.