Sit next to someone new in every session and introduce yourself. Also, follow up with the students and professionals you network with. You would be surprised how many people don’t actually follow up with an email or LinkedIn invitation. It’s a gesture that goes a long way and makes you stand out among your peers.
Take time to explore the city and get a feel for the local culture. Get enough sleep but beyond that, get out of your hotel room and go do things! Be sure to take some breaks throughout the weekend to exercise or turn your brain off for a bit so that you stay energized! Also, make sure to meet everyone on the National Committee and personally thank the staff from Headquarters and the Conference Committee for their hard work.
Map out what sessions you are most interested in and research the companies that will be at Conference. Look at the schedule on your flight or drive to Boston and make a note of those that interest you. By mapping out the sessions, you will be able to spend more time networking with professionals. This will ensure you leave a great impression on professionals — who knows, one of them may end up being your future employer. Take advantage of this awesome opportunity!
My Chapter’s attendees look at the schedule to ensure we have someone attending every session so that we can cover it on our social media and blog. This way everyone at home can follow along with everything National Conference. Be sure to take a lot of notes but also be sure to send a tweet or two using the official hashtag, #PRSSANC. Speakers love when you quote them on social media!
Business cards are essential. Your network will expand exponentially over the weekend so get ready to hand out cards, as well as take them in. I suggest having business cards in a few different places that are easy to access. Be sure to bring at least 100. If you haven’t made your cards yet, make sure they stick out while expressing your personal brand. Variations of color, size and stock are all recommended. Pro tip: If you really want someone to remember you, have similarly designed thank you cards ready and waiting for you to personalize and send out when you get back!
After meeting a new PRSSA member or professional, jot down a few notes from your conversation on the back of their business card. This will help you create stronger connections, as well as make you more memorable in the follow-up email. Also, if you are interested in running for a National Committee position next year, this is your time to ask questions that can help you with your decision!
If you are attending conference alone, take every opportunity to socialize. Don’t wait for people to approach you. It can be intimidating at first, especially if you are alone or come from a smaller Chapter. However, everyone is friendly and eager to network. These connections will be some of your best resources during this trip. They also will help you make memories that you will never forget!
The great thing about National Conference is that PRSA ICON is happening at the same time. Utilize your sponsor Chapter and professional connections to introduce you to people in their networks. You never know who you will meet. Chapter presidents — this is the most valuable time to get tips and tricks from other Chapters. Take some of their best practices and use them when you get home. Most of all, be excited! You’re going to learn a ton and make friends along the way.
Networking is one of the PR tools we love to utilize. The people you meet here will be your friends, colleagues, competition and inspiration for your professional career. This field is relationship based. Build these now and they will last a lifetime. Also, take time to meet with your closest Regional Conference hosts. Now is a great time to start planning where you will be heading in the spring!
It was through my first National Conference that I learned I wanted to be more involved on the national and regional level. Make sure to meet members of the Chapters in your state. A benefit of being close to one another is you know what works in your region and can even drop in on their meetings! If you think you might want to become more involved on the national level, try writing for Progressions or consider running for a national committee position next year.
Want more advice? Reach out to any of the National Committee members to get more personalized help.