Five Tips for Attending Geek Conferences

From time to time, work creeps up on you and sucks every last drop of knowledge and energy from you as you push from project to deadline to client to deliverable. A lonesome geek can get stale quickly, so its important to find some inspiration from the development community as often as you can manage.

Conferences are a great source of information and provide plenty of opportunities to pick up tips from the pros and rub shoulders with your contemporaries. But while looking for the perfect solution to your technical problems, its easy to neglect the basics and end up having a day that feels increasingly hassled.

Here’s five tips to help you along, the next time you attend a conference:

  1. Always show up with business cards. Lets face it, you might be the business when it comes to technical delivery, but if you introduce yourself at a conference without a card, you’re forgotten by the time your new friend turns their head. Always bring cards and always follow up with an email to the cards you’ve taken from people. Its also a good idea to jot a reminder on the back of the card you’ve received as a reminder about the conversation you’ve opened with.
  2. Don’t show up with a full bag/rucksack/briefcase. Conferences are great for goodies, and you’ll be handed plenty of clobber throughout the day. If your bag is full to bursting when you arrive, you’re going to end up weighed down and avoiding some of the best freebies later in the day.
  3. Know which talks you’re attending when you arrive. Or at least have a short list. Otherwise you risk missing the stuff that is pivotal to you.
  4. Leave gaps in your day for schmoozing. Let’s face it, you could probably learn everything you’ll see in a presentation from the web. Leave a little time to chat with people, seek out some opportunities, or even see a little bit of the host city of the conference.
  5. Slack off, with purpose. If decorum allows it, attend sessions you are only moderately interested in and work you your laptop during the session. Keep one ear open for valuable gems of information and get things done at the same time.

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