On the eve of LegalTech NY and the upcoming ABA Techshow in Chicago where thousands of lawyers and legal technologists converge, we offer a few tips to help you make these, and other conferences you attend, more productive and rewarding.
1. Chart the sessions you want to check out in advance – As the saying goes: failing to plan is planning to fail. Don’t fail. Get the most education bang for your buck by planning well. Chose first and second choices for each block of time if sessions run concurrently. Note the meeting room numbers and location to avoid getting lost and missing the first few minutes or getting stuck leaning against the wall in a standing-room only session.
2. Use Evernote to take session notes – Set up your sessions (see #1) in Evernote so you’re good to go with session title, description, and speakers. Add each speaker’s Twitter handle to include when you live-tweet the session.
3. Snap pictures of contacts with lanyard – Put a face to the name of the people you meet by taking pictures that include their faces and name tags.
4. Use Evernote to record contacts with context – Take a picture of each business card using the camera in the Evernote app, add notes, and automatically import LinkedIn info so you know how to follow up more effectively. See: How Lawyers Can Use Evernote to Turn Business Cards Into Contacts With Context
5. Make your exhibition hall wandering a relationship building exercise – This can be exhausting and boring if you don’t have a plan. Identify booths you’d like to revisit and make a beeline for them the next time you wander the halls. Strike up a conversation. You’ll get to know them and the people that gather there.
6. Follow and contribute to the conference hashtag on Twitter – Get to know fellow conference attendees, speakers, and vendors and give them an opportunity to know you. Find out where the social events are happening and which sessions are resonating. Tweet highlights and pictures of the sessions you attend and people you hang out with. Bonus: You’ll gain a handful of new Twitter followers.
7. Attend social events – This is a must-do – a great way to meet people and build relationships. Drop in on the free events. If you don’t know what’s going on, check the hashtag on Twitter and ask around. Pay to join events, like luncheons and dinners. It’s well worth it.
8. Spring for coffee or drink dates – You can do this in advance or invite folks you’ve just met and would like to get to know better. Don’t say “let’s grab coffee,” say “let’s grab coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee across the street after this session or at 3. My treat.”
9. Write about your experience – Write about a session or some aspect of your experience at the conference. Record a couple of short interviews and transcribe them. Don’t have a blog? No problem. Contact legal blog editors and other publications and offer to submit the piece. Or, publish it on LinkedIn Pulse or Medium. See: Should Law Firms Post Full-Text Articles On LinkedIn Pulse?
10. Follow up – Don’t wait more than a week after the conference to send an email or it will never happen. Include an interesting blog post or article in your email. Follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn.
If you have other tips for attending conferences that have been particularly useful, please share in the comments below.