While conferences can provide unique and beneficial opportunities for networking, developing as a professional and representing your brand, they also can be long and sometimes even tiring.
Often, conferences present multi-day schedules packed full of presentations, workshops and sessions. Even during free periods, you may feel pressured to make the most of your experience and maximize your productivity by personally meeting up with colleagues and clients.
Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino, according to an article for the Harvard Business Review, stated, “Today, probably even more than ever before, networks are a key form of social capital for achieving goals in both your professional and personal lives.”
However, for introverts and extroverts alike, conferences can be draining. Here are five ways to keep yourself energized and alert amid a whirlwind of activities, lectures and social events.
1. Be strategic with your time
Most conferences feature more sessions and activities than you can possibly attend, so use your time wisely and don’t push yourself to be everywhere at once. You will feel more energized and engaged throughout the whole conference by preparing a bit ahead of time or right at the beginning. According to a blog post for The Muse, you should “take a look at the conference as a whole” to see what sessions and events are offered and which capture your interest. Then, make sure you "attend a range of topics, skill-building sessions and social events," while still allowing "for some down time,” The Muse states. Don’t feel bad about leaving sessions or activities if they are not what you intended or hoped for. Find something better to do with your time.
2. Don’t forget water and snacks
You never know what refreshments will be offered when at a conference, so go prepared. Drinking fluids – particularly water – throughout the day is one of the best and surest ways of staying energized. If you are a coffee or tea drinker, find a place nearby to get your fix. Also bring with you some simple, protein-packed snacks that you can easily and discreetly eat between sessions for a quick pick-me-up.
3. Stay organized
As HubSpot points out, “conferences are information avalanches.” That can be overwhelming, even daunting. However, rather than getting stressed out by the abundance of notes, names and numbers you collect along the way, stay organized. HubSpot suggests writing on people’s business cards “to remind yourself of the salient points of your conversation,” or use apps like CamCard and Evernote to digitally capture images of business cards and take conference notes. If you’re writing everything by hand, include headings, start a new page for each session or activity, and create tags to help you keep track of the information by day, topic or speaker.
4. Occasionally check out
Conferences are important for furthering your career and staying ahead in your industry, but you can’t make the most of your experience without carving out time for fun and rejuvenation. Quoting Dorie Clark, the author of “Stand Out Networking,” the Harvard Business Review cautions that if you push yourself to attend every reception, party or social activity over multiple days, “you’re going to be worn out and frayed, and you will not be at your best.” If you enjoy socializing, by all means go to each happy hour or extra meet-and-greet. But it may be wise to swap out an optional event with something more restful and restorative to recharge your energy.
5. Get sleep and exercise
Most people have certain routines they follow for their wellbeing, and it's good to stick with them, even at a conference. If you normally require eight hours of sleep or a 30-minute workout in the morning to feel your best, maintain those behaviors during the conference. As Clark states in the Harvard Business Review article, “it’s easy for any professional to lose sight of self-care” because they get too busy. Midway through the day, take a 15 minute walk, or if you have a long break, grab a quick nap to store up energy for late-afternoon or evening sessions and workshops.
Above all, try to keep a positive mindset throughout the conference. Remember why you’re there in the first place and how your attendance and attention can help you achieve your professional goals. By staying positive and excited about potential outcomes, you are poised to remain more alert and energized along the way.
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