I had the opportunity to attend my third and final PRSSA National Conference this past October in Indianapolis. From general member to executive board member to two-time president, I have been an active member of PRSSA since day one of my freshman year.
PRSSA, specifically National Conference, has given me endless connections and opportunities. Because I have attended three National Conferences, I have learned the dos and don’ts and how to make the most of opportunities like these. Here are my tips about how to make the most of a professional conference:
- Dress appropriately and professionally: The first impression someone has when they interact with you is how you are dressed. By dressing appropriately and professionally, you are putting your best foot forward and showing that you care. Be sure to dress business professionally, make sure all of your articles of clothing fit you properly and make sure to iron all of your clothing!
- Network, Network, Network: This is your opportunity to interact with people that you would never be able to interact with otherwise. Use your time wisely and speak to everyone that you can. You never know how a contact could be of use to you in the future.
- Come prepared: Before you attend the conference, do your research. Look up the speakers, their experiences, and come with questions. By asking questions that relate to the speakers and their content, it shows that you put in the effort and that you care. This will set you apart from the other attendees at the conference.
- Don’t be afraid to approach someone: After you have just heard the CEO of some big time company speak, you may be intimidated to go up and talk to them. Do not be anxious, go and speak to them! These speakers are there because they want to be there and they want to help. So push yourself to introduce yourself!
- Make business cards: Although it may seem silly, at conferences, business cards are handed out like candy on Halloween. Having business cards makes it so easy to exchange contact information with people after speaking with them. Make sure your business cards have all of your relevant and important information listed.
- Always follow-up: Within 24 hours of speaking with someone, be sure to follow up with him or her on LinkedIn or via email. Following up sets you apart from everyone else they spoke to. Be sure to follow-up in 24 hours because if you wait too long, it may be too late.
The most important thing to do is to take any opportunity that comes your way that will benefit your professional career. I couldn’t be more grateful that I had the opportunity to attend three PRSSA National Conferences and was able to build my network. So Blue Hens, make those business cards and make those connections!
Katherine Bartell is a senior mass communications major with minors in Spanish in journalism. She is president of PRSSA at the University of Delaware and a sister of Alpha Delta Pi. You can reach her on Twitter at @katbartell or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org