In just less than a month, learning professionals from hither and yon will flock to Las Vegas November 16 – 18 to attend this year’s DevLearn Conference. If it’s your first conference—or your fifth—the size and scale of the conference can be a bit daunting. But fear not: with a little preparation, planning, and commitment you can get the information you need and grow your eLearning network during DevLearn 2016.
Before you arrive at DevLearn 2016:
- Find fellow attendees online.
If you’re attending this year’s conference, start conversing on Twitter with others who will be attending. Use #DevLearn and follow the official conference handle to get updates in your Twitter feed.
Post your thoughts and questions about the conference. And once you’re onsite, be sure to continue following #DevLearn. Do your part to extend the conversation by tweeting about what you learn during sessions. If (like me) you’re not in Las Vegas for the conference, make sure you join the conversation on Twitter a few times each day for some vicarious learning.
- Review the exhibitor list.
One of the best things about any conference is the expo. Sure, you’re exhausted after walking the expo for hours, but when else will you have the chance to meet with hundreds of eLearning providers to see what tools and resources they offer? Check out which companies will have booths at DevLearn 2016. Make a plan to check out their booth at some point during the conference. (Be sure to stop by and say hello to eLearning Brothers! You’ll find them in booth #220!)
- Plan your schedule.
There are ten tracks that cover everything from gamification to instructional design to mobile, and everything in between. Take some time before the conference to review the tracks available, and the schedule for concurrent sessions. There’s nothing worse than realizing that you just missed a presentation that would have had a tremendous impact on what you learn during the conference. You don’t have to schedule every minute, but with a little pre-planning, you’ll ensure you make it to your “must attend” sessions.
While you’re at DevLearn 2016:
- Talk to people.
Okay, that may sound simple. But trust me… it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the large crowds at a conference. And having a few minutes to yourself is necessary. But don’t miss the opportunity to network—at breakfast, lunch, or during a session. Introduce yourself to the person next to you and ask them about what they’ve learned, about their role, or about their DevLearn suggestions. Don’t be shy when it comes to talking with presenters—they enjoy meeting their audience before and after their presentation. If you have a great connection with someone—get their business card, follow them on Twitter, or connect via LinkedIn.
After you leave DevLearn 2016:
- Follow-up with your new connections.
The people you meet at DevLearn will make great additions to your eLearning network. If you’ve followed the steps above, you’ll have some serious follow-up once you’re home. Returning to real life can be a bit of a shock after a conference (full email inbox, anyone?). With real work staring you in the face it’s tempting to put your follow-up off “until you have time.” That’s probably going to be never. So, the first week after DevLearn 2016 make a goal to follow-up each day with a few people you met until you’ve gone through your entire list of new connections.
The most important thing: don’t let the opportunity to network before, during or after the conference go to waste. You never know when you might need to reach out your connections for advice or insight. And with a little effort, this conference might just give you a list of connections like you’ve never had.
Liz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.