There seem to be more and more conferences now and maybe being in IT means that I am a little more aware of the various events. Conferences can range from 1 day to an entire week and how you handle them will basically be based on the length of them. A one day conference is easy to handle because you will be attending some lectures during a day and then after maybe a bit of a networking event you can go home. Now it is the longer ones that are going to be entirely different. I have gone to two and four day conferences and they are both entirely different experiences.
Two day conferences
Now a two day conference or at least the one that I have attended may have early pick-up of your badge and all the attend stuff so that is something that is good take advantage of if you can. Picking up your badge prior to the official start of the conference means that the lines might be a little shorter.
The first day is normally pretty full of lectures, some key-notes and then a networking event in the evening. Yes, the first day of the event can be extremely long and it is up to you how you handle everything. You may want to find a place to hide for a few minutes to ensure that you have the energy for the rest of the event.
Day two is normally a little shorter but again there are going to be lectures, more key-notes and yes the vendor area that has been part of the two days of the event. It can mean that you are going to be running around a lot over the two days but at the end of the second day once the closing remarks have happened you are on your own.
Four day conferences
A four day conference can be similar to a two day conference with regards to the early pick-up of your badge and all the attend stuff. This also gives you time to go over the schedule prior to the actual start of the event and maybe figure out the sessions you may go to. In the case of the conference that I was at there was a dinner set up as a meeting of the attendees. Sure the attendees had to pay their own way at this dinner but it was a great way to start meeting some of the other attendees, especially those staying at the hotel.
I can sum up the first two days of my conference as extremely busy because there were the key-notes, sessions and then there are the evening events that are normally hosted by some of the sponsors. These days can be extremely long and on day two is when the vendors had their booths so they were added to the amount of running around that was involved.
Day three was once again busy with the key-notes, sessions, vendors and then the evening cocktails and banquet. Again another long day but fun as it gave everyone more chances to network. By now most of the attendees were starting to feel the exhaustion set in but everyone still wanted to try and keep going and not miss things.
Day four now this is the wrap up day and for us it was a half day and we were all glad to be heading home after the conference. Again there were sessions, a couple of vendors still around and then the closing key-note and prize draws. By the time the final key-note was delivered people were realizing that the conference was coming to the end and it was sad because some people were heading off to a quick flight home and others were waiting until the next day to fly home depending on their flight schedules. For others it was time to pack up the hotel room and drive home.
I have now been fortunate to attend one, two and four day conferences and they are different in some ways. The four day conferences are exhausting and if you aren’t prepared for the crazy schedule and lack of sleep you will be exhausted. I think even with being prepared you hit the point where you can’t learn any more and are ready for the conference to end.
Having the opportunity to attend the longer conferences means that you will also have a chance to network a little more and I realized that being able to stay at the host hotel or a near by hotel can be a great benefit at these longer events. The hotel gives you the opportunity to have a home base and if you want a quick escape even for a half hour you have your own private hiding spot.
Conferences are great for networking and learning new things and I will continue to go to the various conferences and learn what I can.