Last week was React Rally, and I am so thankful that I attended. React Rally is a single track two day conference held annually in Salt Lake City. Here are some tips that could help you at either your first or next conference you attend. (tips are not in any order.)
1. Find conference buddies (ahead of time)
After I bought my ticket for React Rally, I immediately made a tweet to express my excitement. I even suggested I was open to Airbnb with others.
Just bought my @ReactRally ticket! Now, who wants to get an Airbnb? 😎— Jon Major Condon (@jonmajorc) April 11, 2018
It worked too — Andrew Del Prete (@AndrewDelPrete) contacted me to room with him and his coworkers! Thankfully his coworkers were cool with letting an outsider in, so I roomed with many other awesome developers in a phenomenal looking Airbnb for the duration of the conference. Having these conference buddies made it possible to meet a lot of people faster than on my own. Sometimes we would divide and conquer or meet others together. Not only you having conference buddies can help you meet many people fast, it could help make meeting others less intimidating.
2. Surround yourself with others
The day before the conference we hiked and had dinner with many other developers. Few developers showed up for hiking and the rest for dinner. Either way, we met many developers before the first day of the conference! The hike left my legs exhausted, but it didn't slow me down at all when it came to meeting new people.
3. Allow others to join conversations
Introduce yourself and engage in a conversation beside the person. Standing face-to-face makes it a one-on-one conversation that warns off others. So be sure to leave an opening for a person to join -- the awesome bearded Kyle Shevlin (@kyleshevlin) shared that tip! I personally made it an effort to continue this practice the rest of the conference when talking to anyone. I noticed it worked well too! I met many more developers when doing this because others felt accepted to join the conversation.
4. Ask the group to catch you up
Joining a conversation can be awkward... Don't let the awkwardness stop you! Simply introduce yourself and ask to be caught up with what's being discussed. It's totally cool... Get into the groove of joining conversations late and not knowing anything that's being discussed. It happens too often to allow it to stop you.
5. Talk to as many folks as possible
You will have many opportunities to connect with others. I know you want to talk to the speakers, but don't limit yourself from talking to those in the crowd. Introduce yourself to as many people and attempt to make deep connections where possible; It's okay to keep conversations surface level too. There are so many people to meet in such a short amount of time!
6. Respectful to others time
Not only is your time valuable, but so is the time of the people you meet. Conversations may run short but it's okay to keep the conversations short, as there are so many others you still can meet. You can always follow up throughout the day with those you already met, and I encourage you to do so.
7. Set conference goals
Set a goal; A friend at this conference had a goal for herself to talk to as many other female developers. I’ve also heard of people setting a goal to meet anyone wearing a blue shirt. Sometimes setting a goal can help motivate meeting new people. Try it!
8. Follow ups...
Be sure to follow up with those you met! Go drop them a DM.
My Life Pro Tip: after a conference, within a week, take the time to reach out to the people you met and say something thoughtful. Doesn't have to be long, but a sincere "I'm glad we met" goes a long way towards building a relationship, professional and otherwise.— Kyle Shevlin (@kyleshevlin) August 22, 2018
My next conference I am attending is Faith Leads Tech in Tennessee! Don't hesitate to drop me a DM on Twitter if you will be around. I would love to grab some coffee and talk 👋