Over the past decade, we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming thousands of people to our museum conferences from all over the world. during that time we’ve picked up tips on how to have the best museum conference experience.
We’ve noticed that some people get more out of our events because they do a few small things differently to maximize the opportunity.
These ‘habits of highly effective conference goers’ start before they set foot on a plane and don’t finish until weeks after the event. Here are some conference tips to help you to have your best museum conference ever:
Pre-Event tips for the best museum conference experience
1. Get to know the program
Know what you want to see at the conference. A few things at our conferences have limited capacities, so for the best experience decide whether you want to attend any of these sessions and book your place.
2. Connect with fellow delegates on Twitter
Use our conference hashtag #MuseumNext to let people know that you’re attending the event and follow others who are tweeting about it.
Ask your connections on LinkedIn and Facebook if they are coming along too.
3. Schedule meetings
If you want to schedule some time with any of the speakers, delegates or exhibitors, try and arrange this before the event. LinkedIn can be a fantastic way to contact people if you don’t have their email addresses.
4. Bring a friend
Some delegates use MuseumNext to reconnect with former colleagues. If there is someone who you’d like to share your conference experience with, why not invite them to join you.
5. What do you do?
It sounds simple, but think about how you’ll share what you do? Don’t just stop at a job title, think about a great project that you can tell people about when you meet them. Or even better, a project which they can collaborate with you on.
6. Travel with other colleagues
Are you driving? Got room in your car? Invite other delegates to share your ride and make a road trip out of getting to the conference.
7. Get to know where you’re going
Even at the best museum conference some of the most valuable conversations happen in the evening. So look up where to go before you set foot on the plane. You might want to make dinner plans before the event, booking a table that you might struggle to get otherwise. Just remember to book an extra few seats for people you meet at the conference.
8. Pack the right stuff
Pack your phone and laptop plugs; you will probably spend a lot of time on these, so don’t get caught with dead batteries (these are the things asked for most at conference reception). If you’re traveling from overseas, you might need a travel adaptor too.
Check that you have enough business cards and pack a notebook.
9. Remember your out of office
Put an out of office on your email, so people know that you’ll not be checking it as often as you usually do. That way you’ll feel a bit more relaxed and find it easier to concentrate on the conference sessions and to connect with your fellow delegates.
On the plane to MuseumNext, write down key objectives and critical questions. It’s easy to get distracted at a conference so be clear on what you would make this the best experience for you.
Once you’re there
11. Register Early
You don’t want to get stuck at registration while everyone else is off enjoying presentations, workshops or tours. So register early for the best museum conference experience.
12. Sit up front
In conference sessions sit in the front row. This will have the best view, the best sound and the best chance to connect with the speakers.
13. Get on the hashtag
There is always an active Twitter conversation at MuseumNext. Follow the conference hashtag to see what other people think of the sessions and to share your experience with your followers.
14. Take notes
While recording what you hear on Twitter is great for connecting with other delegates. Taking handwritten notes is the best way to recall later what you heard at the conference.
15. Ask the speakers for their slides
Connect with speakers by asking them to share their slides with you. Most are happy to do so, and it’s a great way to start a conversation.
16. Schmooze at the Social Events
Make time to attend the conference’s social events—they’re a good opportunity to connect with your fellow delegates in a more relaxed setting.
17. Never eat alone
Having taken the time to find a good local restaurant (see tip 7) invite people who you meet at the conference to join you for dinner. Often people are attending the conference alone and will be glad of the invitation.
18. Don’t get stuck
Don’t spend all of your time with your colleagues, MuseumNext is an opportunity to meet new people.
19. Ask questions
All MuseumNext talks end with a Q&A; this is a great chance to find the answer to a burning question. Your fellow delegates will thank you for asking something useful rather than using it as an opportunity to speak about yourself.
Always start by saying who you are and where you are from, this will help you to connect with others in the room.
20. Don’t forget the trade booths
Most of our conferences have a small number of exhibition stands showcasing businesses which specialize in the museum sector. These suppliers might have products that could be useful to you or your colleagues, so take the chance to learn about what they do.
Once you’re home
The insights you gain at the best museum conferences are likely to be useful for your team, so make sure to set aside time to pass on what you learned. That can be a presentation to your colleagues or a blog post.
One of the most valuable things that a conference can give you is connections, so make sure that you follow up with everyone who you have met whether that is by linking on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn or by dropping them an email.
If you want to stand out, send them a postcard from your museum shop.
23. What’s Next
Arrange with your new friends to see them at the conference again next year.
Best museum conference ever?
We want everyone who comes to MuseumNext to have the best experience possible. Follow the tips above, and we’re sure that you’ll have your best museum conference experience ever.