A conference

7 Quick Ways to Prepare for a Conference (& Stand Out From the Crowd)

Prepare for a conference

You’ve registered for the event, booked your flight and scheduled the time off in your calendar. Done, right? Not quite. There are some quick and easy things you can do right now to prepare for a conference in the future.

Whether you’re looking for a new business opportunity, sourcing inventory, learning about tools of the trade or running a booth on the exhibition floor, there’s so much more you can prepare that will help you learn more and connect with the right people. Most importantly, you’ll stand out from the crowd, and that can help you close deals.

These seven things will make a big impact.

1. Set a goal for the conference

 prepare for a conference set goals

Time required: 15 – 30 minutes

Go into the conference with a purpose. What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to meet? How will this connect to the big picture strategy for your business?

Write these goals down — and if you’re attending with others, make sure you’re all on the same page. Just like a pilot needs a map and navigation tools, these goals will keep you on the right course.

2. Write on your business cards in advance

 Prepare for a conference business cards

Time required: 10 minutes

Personalize a batch of business cards before you pack your bags. If you have a booth, write your booth number or location, along with the conference name on the back of your card. People will be able to find you easier if you meet them away from the booth, and they’ll remember you when back home updating their contacts.

If you’re on the sales side, you could provide a special “conference-only” discount or product offer on the back of your card. Or simply write your basic goal such as, “Looking to improve our manufacturing automation.” Your card will instantly be seen with more value.

3. Connect on social media in advance

Prepare for a conference social media 

Time required: 30 minutes

Check out the conference schedule and website. If there are keynote speakers, particular vendors and industry experts that will be in attendance, reach out and connect with them online.

Your best bet to start is on LinkedIn and Twitter. Influencers and keynote speakers will usually be listed on the event website, so feel free to reach out and let them know you’re looking forward to their session. Mention you’re hoping to say hello during the event, and this sets you up for a familiar in-person chat when you get to the event. That can be a helpful icebreaker.

4. Start setting up meetings

 Prepare for a conference meetings

Time required: 1 hour

Time will be a hot commodity, and the most prepared attendees will book meetings and prep their schedules in advance. Do a bit of homework to target your must-meet attendees, and then reach out to set up a meeting.

Add all your meetings to your calendar, and include blocks of time dedicated to taking impromptu meetings. Also schedule your preferred keynotes and breakout session directly into a calendar that syncs with your smartphone. Now you’ll have a customized, ready-to-go schedule that you can reference at a moment’s notice.

5. Add the LinkedIn app to your phone

 Prepare for a conference LinkedIn

Time required: 3 minutes

If you haven’t done this already, download the LinkedIn app and login so you’re all set up. This is one of the easiest ways to connect with people in the moment — sometimes even a replacement for exchanging business cards.

At the conference, simply add new connections to LinkedIn when you meet them. This shows you’re actively engaged, taking an interest in building a mutually beneficial relationship, and it can simply help confirm you’re connecting with the right contact. This little tactic will make a follow-up touch-point that much more seamless, and you’ll be a step ahead for a continued relationship after the conference.

6. Prepare for a conference by learning about the city

prepare for a conference boston

Time required: 15 – 30 minutes

If you’re heading somewhere new to you, research the history of the city, main attractions, fun facts and little-known trivia. Why? Aside from finding a great restaurant in the off time, it’s a perfect conversation starter or icebreaker with new contacts.

Undoubtedly, you’ll chat with people about and make casual conversation — discussing the conference center, the hotel, where you’re from and if you’re doing anything else while in town. Having an interesting tidbit will keep your conversation lively, give you a back pocket conversation topic, and most importantly, will make you memorable.

7. Perfect your elevator pitch

Prepare for a conference elevator pitch 

Time required: 30 minutes

You’ve set key goals, are an expert in your field and know the value you can provide others. Wrap those three things up into a 30-second statement that you can easily repeat when you meet new contacts.

Think from your audience’s perspective as you develop this pitch. They will be asking themselves, “What value can this new person provide me?” Answer that question in your elevator pitch — keeping it succinct and bold. People will instantly see what you can offer and want to learn more.


Follow these steps and you’ll be ready to get the most out of your conference experience, connect with new prospects and help grow your business through those new connections.