You've signed up to attend (or you're still thinking about attending) the 2014 LERN Annual Conference, Nov. 21-23 at the Walt Disney World Dolphin in Orlando, Florida.
It's your first time and you're not quite sure what to expect, but don't worry, we have some tips for you to make the most of your experience:
1. If you can, come with someone else. Not only will you benefit from having someone else there with you, your organization will benefit by bringing back twice the knowledge.
2. Take notes but be present. You're going to the 2014 LERN Annual Conference to learn, but having your nose down in your laptop or notebook the entire time might leave you unsatisfied with your conference experience. Look up, listen and network with others. When else will you have the chance to chat with a programmer from Chattanooga or an operations manager from Milwaukee? Don't worry about copying down every slide you see - attendees will be able to access all of the conference session slides online.
3. Be prepared to be tired. Attending a conference is not like a typical work day. You get up early and stay on your game all day. At night, you're likely to go out exploring the area or to dinner with new friends. You're going to be tired but making the most of your time at the LERN Annual Conference will be worth it.
4. Create a conference roadmap before you arrive. With so many sessions to choose from, including 30 brand new sessions, you don't want to plan your day as it happens. Take a close look at the schedule and brochure now, and map out which sessions you want to attend. This way you can focus your time and attention on learning, networking and enjoying yourself.
5. Take advantage of your time with the LERN staff and conference presenters. People come from across the U.S. and Canada to make this conference happen, and nowhere else will you have the opportunity to bend the ears of so many experts and industry leaders. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask questions - that's why these people are here!
6. Make it a point to talk to people you don't know, especially people from other industries. You never know what you might learn or from who. If you can't apply our first tip, you might want to take a few minutes reaching out to other conference attendees via the LERN Facebook or LinkedIn pages. Make plans now to meet for lunch or drinks during the conference and the job of meeting people come November won't seem so daunting.
7. Have fun. There's a reason the conference is at the Walt Disney World Dolphin in Orlando and not the Ozarks (No offense to any Ozarks folks!). If you're miserable, you won't learn anything or bring back any value to your organization. No one wants that. Enjoy yourself and the whole LERN Annual Conference experience and you'll learn more and be better suited to apply what you've learned once you get home.