I recently attended the BP Translation Conference in Zagreb. It was my first conference and initially I had no idea what to expect. I did my research and as it turns out, I came over-prepared. This blog post presents my tips for a successful conference.
**Please note, seasoned conference-goers are likely to know this stuff like the back of their hand**
Before the conference
Business cards at the ready!
If you have business cards already, great. If you don’t, get some designed (or design them yourself). They will be handed out to new people you meet so that you can keep in touch, so they are an asset. Good business card websites include VistaPrint and MOO.
Get your profile on the conference’s attendees list
This is something I didn’t do until last minute, so my profile didn’t actually end up on the website. If your conference has an “Attendees” section, submit a professional picture of yourself and say a few words about you and your work. This will attract the attention of anybody who happens to come across the website, not just fellow translators.
Connect on twitter
Visit the conference’s website and look at the attendees list. As you browse through, check whether any of them have linked their twitter accounts and follow them. Have a look on twitter to see who is tweeting about your conference and interact with them by replying, retweeting or following them.
Check out the programme
You will probably have looked at the programme before you paid to attend, but go back and have another look at which talk is on at what time and plan which one you want to go to. There may be more than one talk scheduled at a time, so it pays to be prepared.
What to pack?
This was one of the focuses of my pre-conference research. I suggest: business cards, pens, paper (although this was provided at BP15), a business card wallet for the cards you get from fellow attendees, your tablet (optional, I never ended up using mine) and smart outfits.
What to wear?
This was another one of my pre-conference focuses. Conferences vary, so try to find out about the dress code beforehand. Search for pictures of the previous years’ conferences to give yourself an idea of what to wear. If, like me, your feet suffer in new shoes, get foot plasters or make sure your shoes are well-and-truly broken in before wearing them to a conference.
Where to stay?
I’d recommend staying at the conference hotel. This was a lesson I learned once I got there. I stayed at a hotel down the road and found myself getting jealous when fellow conference attendees decided they needed a break and retreated to their hotel rooms. If you forget anything, you can also just pop upstairs. It also makes getting to the conference a lot easier. I was almost late on the first day as I hadn’t allowed for the fact that 1st May is a Bank Holiday in Croatia, so I was still stood waiting for a tram at 8:50 when the conference started at 9.
If attending the conference isn’t enough for you, conferences usually have a couple of days on either side where they organise activities: workshops, day trips to popular tourist destinations, dinners, evening entertainment, etc. Have a look through these offerings before you go and sign up to the ones you find interesting.
During the conference
Get to know as many people as you can, even if you are shy and quiet like me. This was pretty easy at the BP Translation Conference as many of the talks were interactive. There were also several coffee breaks (and of course lunch) which allowed for plenty of time to get to know your colleagues.
Take good notes
If you hear something noteworthy, write it down. You are more likely to remember it if you put it in writing rather than hearing something and trying to keep it in mind.
Hand out business cards
If you meet interesting people you want to keep in contact with, give them your card and ask for theirs in return.
Although conferences are a business function, they can also be fun. Relax and enjoy networking with your peers!
After the conference
Touch base with the people you met
Have a look through the business cards you were given and find a way to contact those colleagues, be it through Twitter, LinkedIn or by dropping them a line via email.
Ask for presentation slides
If you went to a brilliant talk and you find your notes don’t do it justice, get in touch with the speaker and politely ask them for their presentation slides.
Read this article
Do you love going to conferences? What would you add to this list?