How to Work It at a Conference

Daily inspiration and advice for the ambitious savvy young professional

How to Work It at a Conference

This blog is written by Jessica, our ambassador from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

This week, I am so excited because I am leaving for the Public Relations
Student Society of America’s (PRSSA) National Conference on Thursday, October
13, 2011. If you are unaware, PRSSA is the largest pre-professional group for
public relations students in the world. There are about 10,000 student members
nationwide who belong to about 285 university chapters.

My school, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, has a small chapter with
about 25 members in it. This year, we have 10 students attending the conference
that will be held in Orlando Fla. Before I leave, however, there are many things that
I need to keep in mind. PRSSA National Conference is a great place to network, learn
and grow as a pre-professional. Below are some tips that I learned after attending
last year’s conference for those who are attending this year’s PRSSA conference or
any other type of professional networking conference.

Make business cards. Even if you don’t have an internship or if you haven’t
declared your major, it is still really important to make professional business
cards and bring them with you. Make sure that they are generic. You don’t want
to necessarily put your internship employer or current job on your business cards
because you don’t want to brand yourself with a company that is considered
temporary. My best advice is to put your name and basic contact info, along with
your “title”, which in my case is “Public Relations Student”.

Connect with people on social media. One of the easiest things to do when
you meet people at a conference is to get their name and twitter handle. That being
said, make sure you have yours on your business cards! Staying in contact with
people via Twitter and LinkedIn will undoubtedly help you when you are looking for
jobs down the road.

Bring copies of your resume. This is often the thing that most people forget
to do. Although you may never take your resume out of it’s folder, it is a good idea
to bring it because you never know if you’ll meet someone who is hiring or may
be hiring in the near future. This is especially important to remember if you are a
senior who will soon be graduating. Typically, I bring 5 copies and assume that the
hotel I am staying at will have a copy machine if I need it.

Travel light.
The thing that shocked me the most out of the conferences that
I attended last year was the lack of free time that was provided during the few days
that I was there. Typically conferences are 2 to 5 days long, and the days normally
start at 8 a.m. and often don’t end until 5 p.m. So, you won’t have a lot of time to sift
through a huge bag for an outfit and you definitely won’t have much time to repack
everything on the last day. Because of this, I usually just bring a carry on-sized bag
and a small backpack. That way, I can control the amount of clothing that I pack!

Have you attended a professional conference in the past? If so, do you have
any other tips that you think are important to remember? Are any of you planning
to attend PRSSA National conference? Leave a comment below: I would love to meet
up sometime when I am there!