If you planning on going to an event – e.g. the two-day tech conference Startup Extreme taking place in Voss, Norway, from June 17 to 19 or the STHLM TECH Meetup in Stockholm June 23 – then prepare your self with these tips for event-goers presented by Laila Pawlak.
Laila Pawlak is the founder of DARE2, including the professional playground DARE2mansion and the accelerator programs ‘Thinkubator’ and STARTUP BUZZ. She is a Singularity University alumni and speaker, was the first Experience Economy Expert in Denmark, was the first non-U.S. citizen to win the prestigious Experience Management Achievement Award, and is one of Denmark’s most experienced and enthusiastic conference hosts.
As a seasoned event-goer herself, Pawlak has picked up a plethora of little tips and tricks on how to get the most out of going to a conference or event — and they might not be what you think there are.
1. Do not ask how you can gain value from an event, but how you can contribute.
“It’s simple, really,” explains Pawlak. “Many of us arrive at an event with a sort of laid-back, arms-crossed attitude. We wait for the experiences and opportunities to be served to us. In a way that’s kind of arrogant. The success of an event – also for the individual – is highly connected to the participants and their contributions. So the more we think, “How can I participate and contribute to this event?” the more we automatically create a positive atmosphere, filled with opportunities for everyone. It’s all about mirror neurons.”
She explains that it does not have to take a lot of effort to participate. “Participation can be everything from cheering the speakers and applauding, to raising your hand and asking questions after a presentation.”
2. Use social media, or take good old-fashioned notes
“I tweet, when I go to a conference or event. Both because social media is an important way to communicate, but also because it is empirically proven that making written notes of a lecture or speech dramatically increases the amount of information you are able to remember afterwards,” says Pawlak,
“Tweeting or posting to Facebook is just the modern day way of taking notes. It only adds to the benefits that you are simultaneously creating a community at the conference you are attending. Of course it is perfectly fine to use pen and paper, too,” she smiles.
3. An old classic: talk to people you don’t already know
“This is a point I almost exclusively make to Danes. In Denmark we have this idea that networking is about going out to eat canapés and talk to the guys from that other office that you already know all about. We have the hardest time bringing ourselves to talk to a stranger,” Pawlak exclaims.
“But I will join the choir and say, ‘Seize your opportunity to talk to the person sitting next to you or standing behind you in the coffee line’, he or she could be exactly the connection you need to make.”
4. Check in
“This is quite possibly one of the most important points I can make to people that want to have a great time at an event — check in! Be present mentally as well as physically and focus on what the conference is actually offering to you. If your mind is constantly elsewhere, you will not get your money’s worth at an event.
“So leave the office at home — it’s proven that getting your mind off work can make you more effective at work. So of course it is ok to check your e-mail in the break, but try to be checked in to the present.”
5. Don’t fall into the sugar trap
“And then in the afternoon about an hour after lunch a lot of us start to lose focus and feel tired. This is when we start drinking huge mugs of coffee and really could go for a Snickers bar.”
“My advice to you: don’t eat it! It will only make you feel worse and go into that blood-sugar roller coaster. See if you can find some cold water and some nuts. What your body actually needs is brain food, and it can be a good idea to keep some nuts or dried fruit in your purse for this type of emergencies.”
Following these tips an event or conference can act as a catalyst for heaps of new energy and inspiration and it can help build a strong community. Have fun!