Making the most out of a conference can be challenging, especially if this is your first time. We’ve put together some top tips to getting the most out of our conference:

  • If you’ve come to conference with people you work with, try not to spend the whole time with them. It may feel more comfortable staying with people who are familiar, but you won’t meet as many new people!
  • Starting conversations is easy at conference – ask people what they thought of the plenary, what session did they just do, did they enjoy the awards dinner? If all else fails, start a discussion about the food – people always have an opinion on the whether the biscuits were better at last year’s conference!
  • Take business cards and exchange them with people. Make a quick note on the back to remind you whose card it is (the session you did together, or the interesting area they work in) – it’ll help you remember who you talked to during the two days.
  • Do a variety of sessions. Try to cover topics that you’re not familiar with, or would like to know more about – it’ll help your professional development and will allow you to meet a wider range of people.
  • Contact people afterwards. If you really enjoyed a presenter’s session, email and let them know (they’ll be delighted!)
  • Think about how to use those new contacts to develop your network. Could you arrange reciprocal visits with people working in similar roles to share best practice? Could you invite a presenter to do a similar session at your institution?
  • Don’t be afraid to come to the conference on your own – it is a great way to meet new people
  • If possible, come to the whole conference including the first night which provides a great opportunity to network. There also be opportunities over the weekend before the first day to attend social events to help break the ice!
  • Choose sessions that are interactive – particularly workshop sessions where you will get the chance to work with colleagues around the table.
  • Even if sessions are not interactive it is easier to network with people who have attended a session with you, as you have an easy starting point for a conversation and a mutual interest in the session topic.