Screenshots of twitter lists

Make the Most of Professional Conferences with Twitter

Thoughts on maximizing conference attendance via Twitter, in the stylings of Dr. Seuss (kind of):

You have elected (or been selected) to attend a professional convention.
Having overcome any cost-conscious apprehension,
your management expects the event to occupy your full attention
so you are ready to prepare: reviewing speakers, tracks, and sessions.

But how else can you generate a return on their investment?

Twitter.
You can use Twitter lists and hashtags to assist with session selection,
to keep up with folks you meet at the convention,
and after you return, to continue to learn, and to continue your conversations.

Before you go

To make the most of the talks and panels you’ll see,
review the event’s website for speaker biographies.
Create a Twitter list of the speakers whose talents match your interests,
or whose skills overlap your ignorance,
and keep an eye on their conversations leading up to the event.
You may realize a talk you’d thought to skip isn’t one to miss,
or have a better understanding of the backgrounds of panelists,
so for every tracked and scheduled slot, you’ll make the most of it.

But outside those tracked morning and midday hours,
it can be more difficult to schedule fruitful endeavors to optimally leverage your evenings
wherever you and your peers decided to converge.
Here, Twitter plays a helpful role
as event hashtags can help you track open meetups and gathering plans via its search.

In attendance

If you find yourself with an idle moment, or plans fell through,
a hashtags search and a quick review of the recent results will soon brief you
on what outstanding impromptu opportunities are out there to do.
It’s always hard to say if any chance conversation
will have any long-term implications on your career or compensation,
but when you’ve already travelled so far for the seminars earlier in the day,
I recommend you put yourself out there to hear what others have to say.

And though not everyone you meet will use Twitter often to tweet,
it doesn’t hurt to keep a twitter list of attendees to whom you speak.
Your peers who travel to learn likely keep learning year-round,
and may yet share whatever future insights they’re yet to’ve found.

Upon return

Tweet your thanks first to the speakers and organizers,
then second the sponsors and advertisers
to encourage that they invest in the event again.
Then over the weeks and months to come
keep up with your peers and what they’ve done:
the problems they’ve faced, their solutions devised,
the near-misses and Christmas plans, successes and tries.
A convention’s a weekend, but careers take up years,
and the folks that you’ve met and with whom you’ve shared beers
are on parallel tracks and that time with your peers
doesn’t end when you all head home.
Tweet, read, and remember,
you’re not working alone.

Joe Hills is a developer for Parthenon Publishing currently recovering from reading hundreds of hours of childrens’ books aloud to his daughter over the course of several years. For more from Joe about Twitter, check out his Retweet Cheat Sheet on maintaining integrity for your personal brand.

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