Attending a conference for the first time is exciting! It can also be overwhelming with so many things to keep in mind and plans to make. But making the most of your first conference experience is important and straightforward with our top tips.
Check out our tips for first-time conference attendees and make your first conference a success!
5 Top Tips for Attending a Conference for the First Time
Industry conferences are a great way to learn about trends, update your skills, and meet new people in your field. But if you are a first-time attendee, going to a new conference can be an intimidating experience. Try our tips for attending a conference for the first time to ensure your success and feel more comfortable as you plan your trip.
1.) Take advantage of activities geared to first-time attendees.
Many conferences ask if you are a first-time attendee when registering for the event. Checking yes usually garners an invite to special first-timer events, like a welcome breakfast. The conference may also denote your status on your ID badge so others can welcome you and help you during the event. Take advantage of these activities to help you maximize your time at the event and meet new people.
2.) Spend time planning your trip before the conference.
Look at the conference schedule before you take off on your trip. Plan the sessions you would like to attend before you go. If you want to earn CE credits, look for sessions offering credits and add them to your schedule. Add optional events you wish to attend, like lunches or networking receptions. A word of caution, though — don’t overextend yourself. It is tempting to want to see and do everything at your first industry conference, but be sure to plan some time to network, relax, and travel between events.
3.) Download the conference app in advance.
Many industry events have an app you can download. Use the app to your advantage to connect with other attendees and plan your time. Some apps allow you to email your new connections and start conversations before you go to the event, which is a great way to meet new people and expand your network. Downloading the app in advance also means you can update and customize your profile so other attendees can find you easily. Don’t forget to update your LinkedIn profile and other social media sites to share with other attendees. You can often include links to your socials in your conference app profile.
4.) Form a plan to connect with other attendees.
Think about how you’ll meet and connect with new people at the conference. While many people attend events to network, lots of people also already have circles of friends and colleagues they look forward to seeing at events. This means you’ll want to make a game plan for how to introduce yourself and find friends at functions. If you are an extrovert, this may be as easy as walking up to a new group of people and striking up a conversation.
But if you struggle with this, come up with some ideas before you go. Consider conversation starters, prepare your own elevator pitch to share about yourself, and bring your business cards or digital business card to share. And if all else fails, remember people like to talk about themselves — so approach someone, pay them a genuine compliment, then ask what they do. The conversation should flow naturally from there!
5.) Pick the right event for your first conference.
Many industry events compete for attendees yearly — and the competition has grown fiercer since the pandemic. Because so many events compete for your attention and conference budget dollars, you must be selective about which conferences you attend. Do your research about the different events you might like, then narrow your selection. Think about conferences with diverse educational sessions, CE credits, networking events, and a fun destination.
You may decide to extend your time at the conference to enjoy some tourist activities if the conference is in a desirable location. And be sure to read testimonials from past conference-goers to hear reviews of the event. An excellent choice for your first insurance conference is the American Agents Alliance 2022 Conference & Expo, held in sunny Palm Desert, California, from September 22-24. Registration is open now — don’t miss it!
Attend Your First Conference With Confidence
Use our tips to attend your first industry event with confidence! For more helpful content like this designed for independent agents and brokers, check out the American Agents Alliance. Our blog features trends, tips, and ideas to help you succeed, and our members enjoy the industry’s best discounts and networking opportunities. And the best part is access to the best P&C event in the West, the American Agents Alliance annual conference and expo!
Become a member today and maximize your career.