So you’re coming to Alliance 2017. That's great!
What’s in store for you? You’ll attend dozens of sessions led by professionals in your industry, learn tips and tricks to optimize your solution, network with a ton of new people, and have a great time at all of our evening events.
If you’re a conference-going expert, you probably have your own short list of tried-and-true tactics for making the most of a conference. (If so, we'd love to hear in the comments!) But if not, never fear - we’ve got your back with our best tips for how to do Alliance right.
Pregame: Before You Go
Be prepared. Be prepared. Be prepared.
It bears repeating. The quickest way to throw away hundreds of dollars (besides actually throwing them away) is to go to a conference without sitting down and formulating a plan first.
It’s not exactly military statecraft, but it’s essential. I guarantee there will be no time to stop and pause once you arrive at the event, so take some time to complete the following items before you board that plane/train/bus.
1) Review the agenda.
This one’s a no-brainer. Set a goal for what you’d like to learn at the conference, and use the agenda to devise a plan specifically tailored to that goal.
When it comes to smaller sessions, consider both the speaker and the subject matter. Highly tactical sessions are generally useful to attend regardless of who leads them. However, sessions less directly related to your profession can be valuable as well if they’re led by an industry figure you’re angling to meet or wish to expand your knowedge into other areas.
As well, make sure to attend conference-wide events like keynote addresses as well as our Welcome Reception, Technology Cocktain Mixer and Industry Networking Dinner for opportunities to mingle with your peers and the good folks at Altus.
2) Orient yourself.
Familiarize yourself with the conference space so you don’t get lost. You don’t want to miss important information or have a roomful of people form a negative first impression of you by showing up late.
While the conference space in the Thompson is not expansive, make sure to stroll around and familiarize yourself with the names of the different session rooms. If you do happen to get lost, you can consult a map within your conference booklet or ask one of our friendly staff at the registration desk for directions.
3) Find out who’s going.
The people you’ll attend sessions with are as important as the sessions themselves, and there’s no better time to network with your peers or reconnect with your Altus contacts than at Alliance.
But don’t count on simply running into peers or your Altus team at the conference. Instead, reach out to us ahead of time to let us know you’ll be in attendance. This way, you can book time on our calendars and have our full, undivided attention instead of trying to cram a 15-minute conversation into a stop-and-chat.
For a list of current attendees, visit our Sched site's Attendees page.
4) Set an out-of-office reply.
Let’s be honest: You probably will be checking your work email during the conference. But even if you are, you definitely won’t be able to respond at the same speed as you do in the office. Make sure collegues know why they might not hear from you for a few days by setting up an out-of-office reply.
5) Bring the right gear.
Alliance is a multi-day affair where you’ll be spending all day with us in great sessions. To remove as much stress as possible from your experience, make sure you’ve taken care of these things before you get on the road:
- Keep your phone and laptop chargers with you. You’re likely to spend a huge part of your day on your devices -- don’t get caught with dead batteries.
- Pack enough business cards. Make sure you have some on hand and a stash in your luggage. You never know how many people you’re going to meet.
- Bring the materials you need: Whether you're a note typer or note scribbler, make sure you come prepared with the materials best suited to your learning style.
Game Time: Once You're There
You’re here ... Now what? The next few days will be a whirlwind of activity, but don’t be overwhelmed. You’re armed with a goal and a plan - there are only a few additional things to keep in mind to help you make the most of your time.
6) Register early.
You don’t want to be stuck at the registration desk while everyone else is off to the races (or breakfast!). Pick up your conference materials on Wednesday evening before our Welcome Reception so you can minimize your time standing in lines and maximize your time learning and meeting people.
7) Divide and conquer.
If you’re attending with coworkers, try and see as much as possible. If each of you attends the same sessions and events, your organization might as well have only sent one of you. Splitting up for sessions will maximize how much you’re able to learn and ensure that each of you has unique insights to take back to your organization. Plan to eat lunch or dinner together each day to regroup on key takeaways.
Flying solo also means you’ll each be able to meet more people. Sometimes conferences can foster pack mentality, but the more attendees you can meet and speak with, the more of an asset you’ll be to your team. Discovering how your organization fits into the larger industry and how other organizations run their departments or programs are invaluable insights. Alliance is an unparalleled opportunity to pick the brains of your peers. Don’t waste it.
8) Participate in the larger conversation.
Most conferences will have a dedicated hashtag, and #Alliance2017 is no different. During the event, make sure you’re tagging your tweets and Instagrams properly. You can also monitor the hashtag throughout the conference to see what other people are talking about. Striking up a conversation online is a great way to reach out to someone you’re interested in meeting but haven’t come across in person yet.
9) Stay organized.
Conferences are information avalanches. Between pre-conference training, sessions, keynotes, one-on-one conversations, and happy hours, you’ll come away with more notes, names, and numbers than you can possibly remember. This wealth of information will serve you well going forward, but if you come home with a mess of business cards and a set of notes without labels or tags, you’ll spend double the time organizing everything and trying to recall what you discussed with “Cait Altus Marketing.”
Thankfully, it’s not hard to keep yourself on track, so long as you strike when the iron’s hot. Write on the back of people’s business cards to remind yourself of the salient points of your conversation, or digitally capture the cards and take notes in an app such as CamCard. Include details about what session or networking event you met them at - anything that will jog your memory a day or a week after the fact.
Postgame: Once You're Home
Take some time to decompress after you arrive home, but not too much because your work’s not finished. The days and weeks after Alliance are when you’ll be able to put everything you’ve learned to use and turn your meet-and-greets or session notes into improvements for your organization.
10) Follow up.
Connecting with people you met during Alliance is best done in the days immediately following your return. Send follow-up notes and LinkedIn requests while the conference is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Include a personalized message to accompany your request on LinkedIn. Remember, everyone’s inbox will be flooded, so make yourself memorable by reminding your new connection what you discussed!
The insights you gained at Alliance are going to be extremely useful for your team, so make sure to set aside time to pass on what you learned. Whether it’s leading an in-person session or writing an email or post to document the most valuable information, proactively sharing information will help your colleagues do better work while establishing you as a leader on your team.
There’s no better place than Alliance to take stock of the state of your industry and your profession, make sure you're up to date with the latest tips and tricks, and learn from industry professionals and your peers. Make the most of your time, and have fun!
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