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We will be heading to LavaCon 2017 this November 5-8. As long-time conference attendees, we know that conferences can be overwhelming at times and, once you leave, it can be hard to remember all the exciting new things you learned.

Here are some tips for technical communicators to make the most out of the conference:

Write it Down

Conferences are jam-packed with sessions, speakers, keynotes, socials, networking, and Q&A sessions. It’s impossible to remember everything you learn, so take notes of the things you want to follow up on when you get back to work. Marketers have done studies on impulse buying, show that if you have a planned list of stuff you want, you’re less likely to get distracted and end up with things you don’t need. The same goes for conferences. So to help you, we created a conference goal worksheet that you can use with your notes.

Make Connections

With so much of our lives in the digital realm, take full advantage of physically being around other professionals going through similar industry and organizational challenges. Mealtimes, happy hours, and in between sessions are just as important as the sessions to make connections with those that can help you.

Ask Questions

Chances are if you have a question, seven other people have it, too. Make sure you get what you want out of the sessions by holding the presenter to the relevant topics. Sessions are just one of the ways to get answers. Pay close attention to the problems others are facing and be open about your own. If there are vendors at your table, take advantage of their experience. That’s why they’re there.

Explore your Potential

One of the major drivers for conferences is the opportunity to share the latest information in the industry. While it’s good to get answers to the questions you’re currently facing, set some time aside to future-proof your company. Take the wishlist out of your back pocket and start talking with the technical communicators who are further along in their content maturity models than you. Then go to the vendors and have them demonstrate how to get from where you are to where you want to be.

Bring Business Cards

At technical writing and communication conferences, the chances of an attendee having a business card are roughly 50/50. There are many cheap sites to print business cards, and it saves time to have them on hand, so people don’t need to write all your information down on the spot. You’ll also get added value after the conference ends by following up with the people you connected with at the conference. People with similar problems can stay in touch to see which of their approaches works best.

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