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October 11, 2018

How to survive your first tech conference

LS
Lois Shearing 3 minute read

A tech-newbie shares their first tech conference experience

Breaking into the tech industry isn’t always becoming an engineer or developer, it can also mean taking your skills as an event planner, HR specialist, or marketer (etc) and applying them in a tech setting. After all, no company can function with engineers alone. Adaptavist knows that everyone who joins, no matter their background or skill-set, is united by a constant desire to learn and an interest in the potential of tech.

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That’s why as a content marketer and tech newbie, I was given the opportunity to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day at the TECH(K)NOW conference in London. It was a brilliant experience and incredibly inspiring to meet so many women who are making the world a better place through technology.

It was also my first ever tech conference. So for all you newbies who aren’t sure what to expect, here’s a quick survival guide:

1. Be equipped

Make sure to take a notebook, tablet, phone, so you can take notes. Not only will you need to jot down ideas and key points from talks, you’ll want somewhere to write the email address, names, or twitter handles of all the interesting people you’ll meet. If you’re planning on taking part in any workshops, be sure to check what you need to bring in advance. Most likely a laptop.

2. Get hands-on

The most rewarding parts of my day at TECH(K)NOW were definitely the two workshops I attended. Workshops are a great way to pick up some new skills and to get talking to people. If you’re a newbie at a tech conference, you’re likely there to learn more about coding or development, so what better time is there to take the plunge and have a go? 

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3. Be open-minded

Picture a tech conference in your mind. Is it a day filled with jargon-heavy talks, confusing seminars, and inaccessible experts? That’s what I thought too. But by researching the conference first and planning your time, you can carve out a day that perfectly fits your knowledge and comfort level.

On that note, be open-minded about your own abilities. One of my biggest takeaways from the day is that just through using tech in my daily life, I know a lot more than I realised. So don’t sign up for a beginners workshop on a topic that you know about but don’t think you’re “qualified enough” to take an intermediate workshop on. Push out of your comfort-zone!

4. Butt in

Most people at these events are looking to network, so don’t be shy about asking to join people at a table or on refreshment breaks. They’re probably as pleased about striking up a conversation as you are.

The same applies to the talks and workshops. The speakers want to know that their audience is engaged so they welcome questions. But maybe raise a hand rather than butting in.

5. Get in line, quickly!

Conferences can be long, full-on days and you’re going to need refreshments. Unfortunately, so will everyone else. So get in line for the coffee and croissants, ASAP.

6. Follow through

Put those emails and twitter handles to good use by sending out a few “it was lovely to meet you” messages. You never know when you might run into that person again. As for the workshops you attend; make a pledge to practice the skill you’ve learnt or read an article/book on the topic within the next week.

There you have it. Six tips for getting through your first ever tech conference. Take it from a first-timer, it’s nowhere near as scary as you might think. So sign up for one today!