5 tips for attending a conference for the first time

Attending a conference for the first time can be daunting. Even making the decision to go for many people can be a difficult one with so many uncertainties ahead of you.

Conference session at BML16


But the chances are, if you’re thinking of attending your very first conference then you’ll know that it’ll be good for your business. You’ll know that there will be lots of networking opportunities and you’ll learn something new.

It’s how that will all happen and making sure it does that can be tricky – even for seasoned attendees! So here are our 5 tips to help you make sure your first conference is a good one.

1. Smile and say hello

When it comes to conferences, you get out what you put in. It can seem intimidating to walk up to people you don’t know, who may be mid-conversation but it’s important. You’re there to get your name out after all. I promise, it’s a much better experience if you’ve got a friendly face to talk to.

Take a deep breath, go up to someone you fancy talking to and simply say hello. Ask them where they’re from (I’m talking business not their birthplace!) and let the conversation flow.

If you don’t feel brave enough, maybe sidle up to somebody that’s looking equally nervous and pop them a smile. Chances are, one of you will crack and start a conversation!

If you have business cards, make sure to give them out through the day to people you talk to.

2. Visit the exhibitors

Some, if not most conferences will have an exhibition hall with exhibitors who want to talk to you. They should be relevant to your business and often have great deals on just for the exhibition.

With halls sometimes being full to the brim, it’s important to make a mental priority list of exhibition stands that you want to talk to as you may not get a chance to talk to them all.

Check out the event website for a list of exhibitors to find out who is most relevant to you.

3. What do you want to achieve?

It’s all well and good attending conferences for the vibe and to ‘learn’, but what does that mean? Do you want to learn about a specific aspect of your business to grow it? Look at the agenda before the conference and work out what talks you want to attend (if a multiple choice).

Pulling these decisions back to what could have the biggest impact for your business and your development will help you narrow the choice.

When you have a specific purpose written down, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to focus on creating achievable outcomes.

4. Create 3 immediate action points

After the conference, think of 3 things that you’re going to do as an immediate action.

It could be that you’re going to download a report somebody was talking about, add your new contacts onto LinkedIn and put some learning into effect.

Make sure you set a date for getting things done so that your experience and new knowledge isn’t wasted.

5. Travel arrangements

It’s usually a given, but you should find out how to get to the conference and arrange travel beforehand. Look up train times if necessary or nearest car parks. This will help you to feel more prepared and less rushed on the day.

I always find it helpful to find out how long it will take to get there and leave a half hour buffer to make sure I arrive on time.

If you’re staying overnight, make sure you know where your hotel is and check the conference venue will store your luggage for you (most larger venues will offer this service).


The most important thing to remember is to enjoy your conference! Let us know if our tips helped you by leaving us a comment, or getting in touch with us on Twitter @EEDisplays.

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