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How to get the most from a conference

04 March 2020

The Pension and Lifetime Saving Association’s investment conference gets underway in a week’s time. Here are my top tips on how to get the most of a hectic few days without feeling like a wrung-out dishrag afterwards.

Failure to prepare is to prepare to fail
Conferences are an excellent opportunity to network. Not only is everyone from in the industry in one place, they are in the mood to chat and share information. But making the most of this requires organisation. Once the delegate list is published, it’s a good idea to organise lots of half-hour meetings. Make this a mixture of new contacts and people with whom you are in the process of building relationships. And always leave some time to drift around the exhibitors’ hall to meet people not on your radar.

The early bird gets the worm
Arriving at 6pm the day before the conference kicks off gives you time to check into the hotel and enjoy a good dinner. And you can be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next morning. Being in the exhibitors’ hall just after registration makes you able to pack in some productive meetings because your contacts will be fresh and focused. By the last day, they are jaded and less able to concentrate.

Stomach first
I’m more than a little obsessed by eating well – every meal should be a celebration. Visiting another city is a great opportunity to sample new restaurants. While the exhibitors’ hall is great place for a chat, a coffee and a drink, it’s a depressing place to eat lunch. Try to make every meal kill two birds with one stone: more relationship building and eating somewhere your taste buds will enjoy. Business breakfasts come into their own at conferences. It’s extra time to do more networking and the bacon and eggs will give you the energy you need for all those meetings. Eschew the over-priced breakfast at your hotel in favour for a cheaper and better spot near to the conference centre – Loudons is my top choice in Edinburgh.

Pace yourself
It’s easy to get carried away and fill your schedule with meetings from dawn to dusk. Resist this temptation: you have finite energy reserves. Aim to finish my meetings in the afternoon and head back to the hotel to write up meeting notes and to relax. If you want to be in top form for drinks and dinner, it’s vital to have some time to yourself. Meditating is an effective way to recover without giving you the sleep hangover which comes with napping.

Prioritise comfort
When you are self-funding sole trader, it can seem like a good idea to choose a cheap hotel when attending a conference. Your internal logic says: “No need to rack up additional expense as I’ll hardly be there anyway.” This is a false economy. It’s important for your hotel room to be a place of comfort and relaxation so find somewhere nice to stay that’s a short walk from the conference centre. The stroll back to the hotel will help you to decompress so you can enjoy every minute you’re in your peaceful room.

Charlotte Moore - post author

Charlotte Moore has been a freelance journalist since 2006, with a solid technical understanding of a broad range of financial topics along with a previous incarnation as an investment analyst. Along with journalism, she has experience of producing written material for corporates and is seeking to expand this part of her business portfolio.