It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unprepared when you first arrive at a conference; but there’s so much to be gained, and a little preparation can help alleviate the initial discomfort.
In a nutshell, conference attendance is about development! It’s as much about personal, business and relationship development as it is professional development. Whether you’re a student or an established software engineer, here are some points to consider as you prepare to attend SyntaxCon 2018.
Before Coming to Syntax Conference:
- Prepare your packing checklist (if traveling): Make sure it includes items such as business cards, (we’ll provide you with printed name tags), note taking materials, building blocks, and any other unique developer focused items that promote fun, conversation, and may serve as icebreakers. If you’re known for wearing funky socks, hats or scarves, be sure to include them in your packing list. Let your personality show!
- Update your social media profile images: Particularly those images that appear on LinkedIn, Twitter and Slack. Make sure your profile displays a recent photo so other attendees will recognize you when they see you, especially if you’re actively using the SyntaxCon hashtag on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook- #syntaxcon
- Interact on Social Media: Use the conference hashtag (#syntaxcon) before, during and after the event to find people; connect with fellow attendees; see if anyone wants to meet up for coffee or hangout, and even to share your ‘Aha moments’.
Come Equipped With:
- A Game Plan: Know why you’re attending, and what you want to get out of SyntaxCon. Then, develop a plan to accomplish your goals. Before you arrive, answer the following questions: Why am I attending? Whom do I want to meet? What do I need to accomplish? Review the schedule ahead of time and pinpoint the sessions you want to attend.
- Conversation Starters: Conversation before and between sessions can be the icing on your conference cake, but although developers generally love to talk, they’re often reluctant to initiate the conversation. As scary as it may be, strike up a conversation and give yourself the opportunity to learn from/share nuggets of information with your fellow attendee. Come prepared with conversation starters, such as “Are you excited about any of the upcoming sessions?” or “Which session was your favorite today?” After that, a shared observation may be the thing that keeps the conversation going. If all else fails, refer to the packing checklist above.
- Business Cards, the LinkedIn App &/ Twitter Connections: Business cards (personal if looking for a job, and work cards if you’re not) should be kept handy for a quick trade off; and it’s a good idea to jot down how you met, and what your conversation was about on the flip side of the card. If, however, your new friend is on LinkedIn, using the app is an effective way to make an immediate and lasting connection. As a stop gap, exchanging Twitter handles allows you to grasp a connection that can later be solidified.
- Mints/Gum to Share: Mints are great icebreakers. Always have some on hand, in case somebody asks for one. Or, try having one yourself while chatting in a group. Inevitably, someone will notice, become insecure about his/her breath, kick him/herself for not bringing any and ask you for one. Next, you’re chatting.
- Your 30-Second Pitch: People are going to ask you what you do. Make sure you have a clear and concise 30-second pitch that communicates who you are, what you do, and more importantly, what you are looking for. Most people say what they do, but very few say what they are looking for, or ask “how may I help?“. Who knows, the person you happen to be talking with may be hiring.
- Portable Battery Chargers: At any conference, you rarely have time to charge your phone or tablet. With extensive social media and phone usage, you often end up with your phone being completely dead before the day is over.
How to Make the Most of the Conference:
- Take notes: After a long day of sessions and networking, its easy to forget who said what. Take notes throughout the day, during talks, and directly after conversations with people so that you can reference these later. Note-taking will also help you stay alert throughout intense sessions.
- Put Away the Smartphone: You’re at a conference to learn and have in-person interaction, and you don’t want your electronic devices to be a barrier to making those connections. So while you don’t have to disconnect completely, put the phone away when you’re waiting for a session to begin or taking a break at the snack station, and give yourself a chance to strike up conversations with the other attendees around you.
- Connect With the Speakers: Syntax Conference Speakers are notable industry experts – they are people you want to know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or hang around (even as the last person) at a session to say hello, tell them you loved the presentation, and grab their business cards. If you don’t get a chance to ask your question in person, you can always follow up by asking them on Twitter (their twitter handles will be listed in the program).
- Be prepared for insightful conversations: Do your homework (We’ve made it easy for you). Read the Features on this year’s blog for deeper insight than is offered on the individual Speaker Profiles. Print and/or review them in advance. Then, when you meet the session presenters, you can have a sincere conversation. Who knows what tidbit you find in a feature might spark a connection.
- Schmooze at the Conference’s many Happy Hours: Definitely make time to attend at least one of the conference’s planned happy hours (Wednesday, Thursday & Friday at The Rusty Bull. Take advantage of the opportunity presented to connect with fellow developers in a more relaxed setting. Who knows what lifelong connections you’ll make over a brew.
That said, we at SyntaxCon look forward to hosting you, and providing an atmosphere for developers to network in an informal learning environment.
About Syntax Conference
The Syntax Code & Craft Conference – more commonly referred to as ‘SyntaxCon’ – is Coastal South Carolina’s premier programmer’s code conference. The event is a full stack code conference focused on fostering ongoing education among the developer community, and offers language-agnostic sessions and talks across 3 main tracks:
- Front-End Development
- Back-End Development
- Platforms (game development, content management systems, cloud-hosted services and infrastructure, mobile development, and more).
The event brings together developers, both established and new, to discuss ideas, collaborate, network, socialize and explore job opportunities.
Attendees can customize their personal agenda by choosing sessions with an aim to improve their craft, fulfill goals, and learn cutting edge trends and best practices in a relatively short time.