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Let’s be real: going to work events isn’t always the most fun thing in the world. Between knowing what to wear, how to handle yourself, and how many drinks you should have, business conferences can be totally overwhelming. Luckily, we got Louise DiIulio, the Director of Advertising Week New York, to share some of her top tips for making the most out of your next business conference.
How To Prepare
Whether you’re attending on your own or as a representative for your company, you need to do some prep work before the conference. DiIulio says that you should always “check out the schedule and ear-mark the ‘must-see’ sessions.” It’s okay not to see every single speaker, but you don’t want to miss something that could be genuinely useful.
What To Wear
Not all conferences are created equal, so it’s important to judge for yourself how formal you need to dress. Just make sure you look professional. Most importantly, DiIulio says you should make sure to bring “a comfortable shoes for a busy day of meetings and sessions,” so probably leave your hottest heels at home. The last thing you want is to be limping through the last session of the day because you didn’t pack a sensible pair of flats.
Who To Talk To
Look, networking can be awkward. There’s no way around it, but this is the whole reason you’re here. DiIulio says that the best times to meet people are meal and coffee breaks, and that you should “have your 30-second elevator pitch ready and say it often.” Make sure to bring your business cards, and if you get a great vibe from someone, try to set up a meeting after the conference ends. You never know which new connections could lead to something big, so talk to as many people as possible, and keep an open mind.
How Much To Drink
When it comes to drinking at a business conference, it’s not all about alcohol. DiIulio reminds you to stay hydrated, and to make sure you “don’t main-line coffee.” The last thing you want is to be a jittery mess while you’re trying to network.
But of course, be careful with the alcoholic beverages, too. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying allotted happy hour times, and these can be some of the best times to make more personal connections, but DiIulio advises to “keep it classy” when it comes to the cocktails.
How Long To Stay
The whole point of going to these events is to learn as much as possible, and meet anyone who could potentially be a helpful connection. Even if you’re tired, you shouldn’t duck out before lunch, or any of the other designated networking times. This isn’t daycare–no one is going to force you to stay, but you’ll regret it if you dip out early and miss an important opportunity.
Whether you’re getting ready for your first business conference, or you’ve been doing these for a long time, you can always work on upping your game to get the most out of the experience. Sure, it can be stressful, but there’s no reason you can’t network like a boss.
You can put all of these tips to use at the next #AWNewYork, which is happening September 23-26, and click here to get 30% off your AdvertisingWeek tickets.