Congratulations! You’re going to be attending your first AESP conference. There’s so much to do before you even get to the conference such as register for the event, book your hotel room and make your flight reservations. But then what do you do once you arrive? What if you’ve never been to a conference before? Will everyone know someone there? How do you meet folks? How can you maximize the value from attending this conference as a new professional? If only there was a quick outline to follow. Well, guess what? We have something just for you to read.
What to do before the Conference:
Review the conference agenda before attending and look for conference sessions that would bring you the most value in attending. Create a schedule for each day of the conference so you will not miss anything. (AESP provides an app for the National Conference and sometimes for the Spring and Summer. When available this can help with creating a schedule.)
Review the exhibitor list and create a list of the exhibitors you want to visit (Learning about the industry not only can come from the conference sessions, but also from visiting and talking with the exhibitors.) NOTE: The exhibitors are there to talk about, and showcase their products for the attendees. So don’t be shy, they want you to stop by their booth.
Review the attendee list prior to conference (try the app – the attendees are listed there and you can even schedule a meeting through it). Look for clients and/or partners that you would like to meet with. If appropriate, send them an email scheduling a time to meet while at the conference. And don’t forget you will receive a directory of attendees when you check in at the AESP Registration Desk.
What to do during the Conference:
Attend all of the networking events - this is a great way to meet other people in the industry.
Attend the New Professional Event where you will meet people like yourself that are new to the industry and facing some of the same challenges as you.
Stick to your conference schedule that you created earlier because you don’t want to miss any of the valuable sessions.
What to do after the Conference:
Create a report of the value received while attending the conference (what you learned, who you met with, what business leads were generated, etc.). This will allow you to show your management the value received in hopes to be able to attend the next AESP Conference.
Keep in contact with those you met while at the conference. You never know who might be helpful to you in the future.
And finally—get involved! There are Local Chapters and Topic Committees, and AESP offers E2E (Experience2Exchange), a mentor/mentee program. Join the AESP and the New Professionals LinkedIn groups. Check out our Resource Library. Learn from our free member Brown Bag webinars. You can tweet about your experience. So many things to do, see and learn.
Now that you are a conference expert, hope to see you at our next event!
Mark Gentry, Utility Sales Director for Ecova, has over 32 years of experience working with utilities and other energy efficiency programs. This article was contributed as a conference ambassador on behalf of the AESP New Professionals Scholarship.