To get the most out of a conference, it is best to think ahead and prepare. Most of the planning can be done well ahead of the event but some of it can be sorted out just before you go.
Firstly, try and book your accommodation early. You may be able to stay at the host hotel, but if not, it makes sense to find a hotel as close as possible. This allows you to pop back to your room easily with any literature, and allows you to pick up any additional items that you might have forgotten. It also allows you an easy trip to the conference, especially if it is in the same building as you. If you are lucky enough to be in the hosting hotel, you are also likely to be able to socialise and network better with fellow attendees who are also staying there.
If you need to book a plane, train or coach, try and do that early too as it will ensure a place and the ticket will usually be cheaper too. Book your transport with a view to arrive at the conference a few hours before it starts. This saves you having to rush about and get stressed on the day and allows for any transport delays. It also gives you time to freshen up on arrival and relax, or maybe to get in some early networking. Registration will take some time, as will orientating yourself with the facilities.
Make sure that you have plenty of quality business cards printed as you will have a great opportunity to network. Pack a few cards with and old design if you have any. You can use them up at vendor stalls for prize draws, but make sure that the contact details are still valid.
As soon as you can get hold of a program, mark off your first choice seminars but make sure you have a backup session to go to in case the speaker isn’t as good as expected or in case they don’t actually make the event on the day.
Knowing which seminars you will be going to allows you to draw up a list of any question you may want to ask and to decide what you want to get from the speaker. Perhaps research the speakers online if you don’t know much about them. This will also help you think of relevant questions.
Choose your clothing sensibly. You will probably want to look smart but you will need to be comfortable. Remember that you will be sitting down a lot so linen is probably not a good idea as it will crease. Layers are good because you can warm up or cool down easily.
Nearer the time, ensure your mobile phone and laptop are fully charged and that you have spare batteries and a charger. Also, get hold of a notepad and a few pens.