I finished my 2019 conference slate late last week. All told, these were my numbers.
LaurieAnd that’s a wrap on 2019 conferences 🥳
📅 17 events
🇺🇸 7 states
🌎 2 countries
1 very grateful and very tired me 😴20:12 PM - 15 Nov 2019
It was a whirlwind year, and it prompted me to write down some advice. Know that this may not apply to everyone, but hopefully one or two of these points will be helpful to you.
Over time I've found that I gain the most from conferences talks introducing me to new ideas or technologies. Advanced talks exist! But for me, if I'm going to dive deeper into something I already know, I'd rather a workshop or more hands-on experience.
With new topics, I get the chance to learn enough to come back to it later. It can be something I want to use in my personal development efforts or a tool I can tuck away to recommend to someone later. And by focusing on talks surrounding new tools and technologies I'm never in danger of attending a talk that is a review of things I already know.
Lunch at conferences can be one of your best opportunities to meet other attendees and speakers, talk informally, and network. And that's wonderful! But there are some days where I've hit the hallway track hard and I'm not in a great mental state to do more chatting.
That's why I match lunch to my mood. If I'm feeling social? Awesome! I'll attend the conference lunch! If not? That's a great chance to go down the street, take a break, and grab something else to eat. And sometimes I need something in the middle. So I'll go down the street with a friend :)
I'm active on twitter! I'm also on DEV. I've found that putting the name of the conference I'm attending in my bio is really valuable. I often get the chance to meet people I've interacted with in the virtual world. People will message me to let me know they're also attending and we make plans to meet up.
Another benefit of this is people get the opportunity to learn about events that may want to attend next year.
Vendor halls are awesome if you're looking for a job. They can be great if your project uses or is thinking about using a technology represented. And overall they're fun to walk around in. But they can also be a huge time suck.
Before you know it you've missed two sessions because you got caught in a number of conversations. This isn't a bad thing! But it's something you want to commit to knowingly. Decide what is the best use of your time, what your priorities are, and go from there.
I'll add that sponsors are a big reason conferences can offer scholarships or even run in the first place. So I love supporting the vendors. And I always spend some time walking through that area.
Swag is super fun. Companies are coming up with all kinds of new and different things. It's great to get some stuff to bring home! But after my first few events, I noticed that grabbing swag is like a shopping high. Everything looks fun and then you get home realizing you have a whole bunch of new knick-knacks.
So be intentional about it. You might not need that new water bottle. Maybe if they're out of your size in the shirt it isn't worth getting this time. You don't have to grab everything, I promise. Unless it's stickers. Always grab the stickers. You can trade/share them later!
There are so many other conference takeaways I have from this year. But many of them are from the perspective of a speaker! So look out for that post next week.
And if you have any insights about being a conference attendee throw them in the comments section. I'd love to hear them.