You’re registered for the next SQL conference or event and are excited about expanding your SQL knowledge and skills and connecting with peers. But, even though attending is your idea (i.e., “the boss” isn’t making you go), you’re wondering how to get maximum benefit from attending—what sessions to hit, which to miss, who to network with, and how to deal with all the coffee.
We’ve got you covered with these four tips:
- Set an overall meeting goal. If your focus for this SQL conference is on personal learning and knowledge, everything else takes a back seat. On the other hand, if your goal is to connect or reconnect with people, you can do that and not feel bad about skipping sessions. Your goal makes it easy to set priorities.
- Network because you have something to offer, not because you want something. A 2015 Harvard Business School article reported on a study that found professional networking makes people feel dirty. If you’re not a fan of pressing the flesh, approach it differently. The author of the study says, “”If you focus on what you can offer to the relationship, it might be an important mindset to have, and remove some of those feelings of inauthenticity.” Think ahead and put yourself in a position of power because you have something to offer. And don’t forget to nurture connections you already have.
- Be strategic with your time. Sometimes skipping a session is your best choice if it’s the only way to connect with someone at the event. When deciding on what sessions to attend, they should help further personal education or personal connections. In other words, you go for the content or you go to support or connect with the presenter, and choose them ahead of time.
- Pace yourself. When your conference is over, you don’t want to get back to your regular work routine feeling like you need a vacation. A SQLSaturday event is a one-day affair (although most do have a pre-conference element), and attending one is not likely to burn you out. For lengthier events, make sure you get enough sleep. Use the hotel gym and get in some exercise. Dorie Clark, author of Stand Out Networking, advises skipping happy hour. After absorbing so much info, it’s important (proven science, even) to let your mind rest and process what it has learned.
There are numerous other ways to get the most out of your attendance at the next SQL conference, and these four tips are a great place to start. As for the coffee, there’s nothing wrong with a little decaf.