Going to My First Conference. Pro Tips?

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My company is sending me off to my first conference this week and I am super excited!

The thing is... I have no idea what to do 🤔

What are your tips for getting the most out of the experience? What should I bring, what should I do, who should I talk to? Or do I just kick back and watch the show like all the YouTube videos 😅

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You don't need to go to all the talks. They'll be available online. I feel like that's a necessary tip. Talks can be really inspiring but sometimes fitting everything in at a conference can be a lot. Feel free to miss some stuff.

When I'm at a conference I try to walk around smiling and allowing myself to get super excited about whatever conversation I find myself in, because IRL is where the energy really flows.

Then I get back home and crash!

 

Keep your ears wide open as you walk around. Joining a conversation with people you don't know, can be INSANELY nerve-wracking, but if you hear topics you're passionate about, it's much easier to join.

So, as you wander, actively listen as hard as you can, because those conversations can wind up being your best experiences at the conference. They also lead to making amazing connections that can give you social, personal and professional benefits for years and years :D

With that being said, after you hear a topic, you should feel free to jump in. Most people attending a conference will welcome you into the conversation. I'm very bad at jumping into a conversation, but I ALWAYS get something good out of it when I get my courage up!

 

Talks are normally useless. If there is an exhibition hall, they are amazing for networking.
When I go to conferences I talk to everyone and add them to LinkedIn.

You can rapidly make connections by using this Linked In feature which when turned on will tell you other people nearby who are also interested in connecting.

Serious networkers at your conference will have this turned on looking to connect.

Also, never eat the free roast beef sandwich. You'll regret it.

 

Looks like the perfect opportunity for shamelessly plugging in one of my blog posts 🙌

You can skip to the « During the conference » section I think. :) It covers tips I’ve found out on what to do, how to meet new people, how to behave, etc.

 

General tip for conferences is around selecting which ones you go to. I find it better to stick to smaller conferences that have smaller presentations: you're much more likely to be able to participate in presentations that are more technically-focussed and that offer meaningful Q&A time (and responses).

 

Don't feel the need to do everything. Take a second to relax every now and then, engage in casual conversations to help pull you out of your comfort zone (try to do this early-ish, I find it helps me be more open to social experiences). Make friends. Talk about things that you're excited about, or things you're currently working on. Conversations don't have to be tech related. My favorite part of meeting people at conferences is understanding their background, what they do for fun, and non-tech hobbies. IMO one of the best aspects of the webdev community is the plethora of rich, non-traditional backgrounds.

Some bring laptops, and that's cool. I find myself rarely reaching for mine except for downtime, maybe after an inspiring talk that got my creative juices flowing.

Hang out with people, go to that after-party, that post-conference social outing, or that quick coffee grab. Most importantly, enjoy yourself!

 

I've only ever brought a notepad and pen (usually courtesy of a sponsor!) but next time will see how useful a small tablet is, just so the occasional email/Slack check is easier than on my budget phone.

 
 

It's pretty simple, really:

Listen. Mingle. Be respectful of others. Remember that you're
there to learn - but to also have a good time doing so.

Oh, and do not get drunk - that leads to embarrassing yourself and your company.

If there's a lightning talks section and you reckon you've got something you can deliver in the time limit, have a go.

 

I would suggest that your top priority should be networking. Catch people in between talks and get to know them.

 

Well I went to a conference today and my #1 tip is to eat as much as possible at the buffet. I had two full meals and a cookie and didn't need any dinner.

 
Classic DEV Post from Apr 29

Are we pretentious and arrogant?

Do you think that we, as developers, have a slighly tendency to become quite selfish because of our so specific-skills?

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// TODO: Write a bio at some point