Entering the holiday season, there are lots of events and conferences to attend. Most of the time, people go from one thing to another, without planning out how to leverage each event to build our visibility and increase our opportunities. One of the roles I have been fortunate enough to play is managing the Student Scholarship Program for the Virginia Women’s Business Conference, both in 2015 and 2016. Here are the top insights I have shared with the students that are coming to this Friday’s amazing conference at Lansdowne Resort and Spa.

1. Dress to Impress

For students especially, and also for any professional, it is critical that you dress for the conference. Although it is a day away from campus or the office, it is important to be aware of the impression you want to make. Do wear comfortable and professional looking shoes, since most of the day you will be walking, networking, and exploring the venue. Plan your outfit ahead of time to make sure you have everything ready to go and are not stressing about it the morning of the event.


2. Set Goals for the Conference / Event

Do set goals! How many people are you trying to meet, who are you wanting to meet? One of the more important things to do is to review the conference agenda ahead of time and be clear on who you want to see and what topics will be value-add. Most conferences have multiple tracks where you have to choose who you want to see speak, so save yourself time and map that out ahead of time. Be clear on what you are trying to learn for your own development, as well as what might be useful for your clients too.

3. Reach Out Ahead of Time

If there are a few speakers you are looking forward to meeting, follow them ahead of time on Twitter, Facebook, etc. and send them a note too. Write a shout out on social media to let them know you look forward to seeing them speak. Most speakers appreciate marketing ahead of time. Just be sure to tag the speaker and also the conference on social media. This is a great way to be visible before the conference, so if you end up meeting them or talking with them, you can let them know you tweeted about them ahead of time.

4. Be Ready to Engage 

Two key ways to engage are digitally and of course the tried and true business card. Do post and share insights at the conference and tag the conference in your social media. Get pictures at the event, with you in them too. Another way to engage is of course to connect with people and hand out your business card. It is an absolute must that you bring business cards. Do not run out of them before the conference. It can take time to print high quality cards, so be sure you have enough. If you have a special offer as a business owner, or something you want to promote for your company, consider having cards made specifically for the event.

5. Follow Up with Connections

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to not follow up from an event or conference. One suggestion is to block time on your calendar and make sure you have follow up time scheduled. Give yourself time to email people and reach out to them within 24-48 hours of the event. Make authentic connections and also make offers to help people, be genuine. If you are making offers, it is even more important that you make notes about the follow up and then do so.

Be a Noisebreaker,