Tips to Make Your Next Conference Trip a Success
Conventions and conferences are a great way to pick up new skills and connect with other clinicians and professionals. If you’ve never been to a conference or a convention, you might want to consider attending the upcoming annual ASHA convention held in November.
Whether you choose the upcoming ASHA Convention or another conference to fit your specialty, there are some things you can do to make the most of your trip. We’ve collected the best tips and tricks to make your conference experience the best it can be.
From the moment you’ve registered for the conference and booked your hotel room, you can start preparing for the trip. One of the ways to begin your conference planning to is to do your homework. If this is a conference you’ve never been to before, thoroughly check out the sponsors and speakers as well as any exhibitors who will be there. Familiarize yourself with the conference schedule and conference-wide events.
This is also the most opportune time to create a rough schedule for the conference. Once you arrive and check in at the conference, you’ll have little time to sit and contemplate or strategize what sessions or events you’d like to attend. Creating an outline of sessions or workshops you want to attend will keep you organized and ensure you don’t miss anything. Don’t create a schedule that’s too tight. You want to leave enough room in it for downtime or an impromptu dinner with the vendor you can’t wait to network with.
Connect before the Event
Speaking of networking, connecting with others at the event is as important as the sessions and events you’ll attend throughout the conference. Not only will you have the chance to network with peers but it’s also a prime opportunity to make new contacts and share ideas and information. Some conference organizers create a Facebook group as well as a hashtag for the attendees to follow on social media. Social media is used as a way to update attendees of conference happenings and deadlines as well as a way to meet others before the event.
Ask anyone who’s ever been to a convention or a conference and they’ll immediately tell you what you need in order to make the trip as enjoyable and productive as possible. While everyone has that one thing they can’t travel without, here is a list of the most popular conference must-haves:
Business Cards – Most people recommend around 200 business cards. You’ll want to drop them with vendors, speakers, and any other new connections you’re making.
Extra phone charger – This goes without saying, if you have a spare charger; bring it. You’ll be glad you did. Some conventions offer “charging stations” throughout the conference, but it never hurts to be extra prepared!
Snacks – Some conferences and conventions take mid-day breaks for attendees to decompress or get a snack but not all do. You may also have dietary needs that large conventions or conferences aren’t able to fulfill. Bring your own snacks or have them shipped to your hotel room ahead of time.
Sweater – Exhibit halls as well as labs or session rooms tend to be cooler to accommodate all the bodies in attendance. While the person next to you might be perfectly comfortable, you may be a bit on the chilly side. Make sure to pack a jacket or sweater.
Extension cord or battery pack – Self-professed conference junkies will tell you that electric outlets suddenly become scarce at a conference. Bringing your own extension cord will ensure you’re not confined to the wall instead of sitting with your peers during a session so your laptop can charge. An extension cord is also an instant friending tool because who doesn’t want to make friends with the only person with the extension cord?
Totebag or laptop bag – This is a given, as you’ll not only be toting around a notebook or laptop to take down notes in sessions, but you’ll most likely encounter lots of exhibitors offering therapy tools and “giveaways.” Make sure you bring a bag large enough to tote all of your fun findings!
Other things to consider packing are good walking shoes, a notebook or two for session and workshop notes, and plenty of pens (another great way to make instant connections).
Newer grads or those looking for other work opportunities may want to bring a few copies of your resume, along with your business cards (if you have them). Many employers attend conferences like these, and some even arrange interviews on the spot! It never hurts to be prepared and stand out from the crowd.
Above all, keep in mind what you hope to take away from the conference and plan around those goals leaving room to change things up. Be sure to follow up with those you met upon your return home to strengthen those new connections. And of course, have fun!
Our VocoVision team is planning to attend the 2018 ASHA Convention in Boston, Massachusetts and will be located at Booth #419. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for announcements about our special giveaways and other updates!