Three Essentials to Make the Most Out of Conferences

Mark Horoszowski

Mark is the Co-founder of MovingWorlds.org, a global platform connecting people who want to volunteer their expertise with social impact organizations.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Robin Hough, one of the Masterminds behind the much anticipated Guardian Activate Summit in New York on May 3,2012. In addition sharing with me the AMAZING line-up of presenters that will be a the event, we also spoke a great deal about HOW to make the most out of attending this event, or any others like it. I found the advice rather uplifting. Here are 3 essentials to make the most out of the Guardian Activate Summit (or any other event for that matter):

#1 Over-prepare

Never attend a conference just to go and hope you might learn something. To really get something out of a conference, you have to plan for success. Start by determining your own success metrics. More specifically, be able to answer these 5 pre-conference preparation questions:

  1. How will you know if the conference was worth your time?
  2. What are you hoping to learn here that you can’t learn anywhere else?
  3. What type of person do you want to meet here that you can’t (easily) meet anywhere else?
  4. Who is coming to the conference, what can you provide them, and what do you want in return?
  5. What is your 30 second elevator pitch as to why the people in #4 will want to speak with you?

#2 Come Armed with Guns Blazing

When you are at a conference, it’s time to shine. Make sure you have everything ready to go. Things like dressing right and business cards are the easy part, so everybody does that. To really stand out, you need to come armed with questions, and ask them out loud. Robin specifically suggested mapping out tough questions to the presenters:

“Ask for the microphone and don ‘t be shy – we’ll all learning something from your inquiries”

Another way to really make the summit a success it to think through post-event activities in advance. What emails are you going to send when the conference is over? What is the call-to-action? If you get time with THAT person, what will you ask of them?

#3 Network, Network, Network.

The real value of conferences is that you are surrounded by like-minded people with rich experiences. And guess what… they are just as nervous as you are to strike up conversations with strangers. When you are at a conference, it’s game time. The more people you talk to, the better. And here is a golden tip (a special offer from Robin at The Guardian): If you want to speak with a specific person or a type of person, go talk to him or any of the other conference organizers and they’ll do the best they can to get you the introductions you need. Take it from me – this is not something that you can get at most conferences… just one of many other reasons that the Activate Summit is one of the best around.

There is still time to join – hopefully see you there!

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