7 survival tips for industry conferences
This year, I had the opportunity to attend the Milken Global Conference in Los Angeles.
It was an incredible -- and exhausting -- learning experience.
As a PR professional, you end up attending a number of conferences in your career, partly because of executive positioning, but also because continuous learning is just part of the job.
If you attend any kind of industry event or conference, you’ll want to make the most of your trip for your clients/executives and for yourself.
1. Familiarize yourself with the venue and event logistics
You will undoubtedly receive questions from clients and colleagues about the venue or schedule of the conference. Before running to the events, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the space, the various locations for events and where the resources/facilities are.
2. Leverage onsite opportunities for more exposure
If you’re staffing an event for a spokesperson or client, explore the various onsite opportunities available to gain more exposure for your company, whether it’s broadcast media or a blog post for the conference organizers. It also helps to build relationships with media since you’re both onsite and have an opportunity for face time.
3. Attend in person and on social media
With conferences attracting hundreds and sometimes thousands of people, it’s impossible to connect with everyone. Social activity, connecting attendees via hashtags, is a great way to interact with others who you may not have a chance to meet during the event.
4. Use conversation themes to inform media pitches
The great thing about conferences is that you see industry experts discussing what they see as important trends. After attending a few panels, you’ll be able to pick up on themes. These can inform your pitches and help you and clients prioritize the storylines that you want to tell (or ones you don’t).
5. Prepared to be flexible
Anytime I’ve attended a conference, I’ve had itineraries for my clients and for myself. By the end of the conference, they usually have so many markups and scheduling shifts. I’m telling you now -- this is not out of the ordinary. Things will changes, calendars will become conflicted...just be prepared to stay flexible and anticipate changes (and don’t freak out).
6. Network when possible
Industry conferences gather professionals who do similar work or have similar interests. That means that you’ll have something to talk about with almost everyone attending. Especially for young professionals, networking when possible is very beneficial -- you never know who you’ll meet.
7. Think about how you can go above and beyond
If you have the capacity, consider other ways to get involved in and around the conference. Are there relationship-building meetings you can set up with various stakeholders? Are there networking events to attend? If possible, can you build something original that focuses on the theme of the event? Be creative -- everyone is in one place at the same time, and it’s a great scenario to leverage.
Julia Sahin works in financial communications at one of the largest PR firms in New York and is a monthly contributor to Muck Rack. She plans on doing big things. Connect with her on Twitter. All opinions should be seen as her own and do not reflect her employer’s.
Photo via Pixabay