At the time of writing this, I’ll be preparing to head to out to an industry conference that happens every year. This will be my fourth year attending this particular conference, so I’ve learned a thing or two about how to stay organized when the conference has a packed schedule.

The reality is, I’ve seen a lot of first-time conference goers overwhelm themselves. As a result, they end up complaining later because they don’t know if they got a return on their investment. Here’s how you can organize your conference schedule so you can make sure you get a return.

Realize you can’t do everything.

As much as you may want to do everything while you begin to organize your conference schedule, the truth is you can’t. There is usually way too much going on at conferences and trying to do it all will only cause you to spin your wheels.

Determine what you have to do.

The next step when you begin to organize your conference schedule is to determine what you absolutely have to do.

For instance, because I’ll be on a panel this year, I know I have to actually show up to it. Additionally, there are a couple of other events I have to go to because I’m a speaker. Once those few things are on the calendar, I leave the rest open for different things.

Determine which events are more likely to give you a return.

The next step when you begin to organize your conference schedule is to determine which events and activities will be more likely to give you a return.

For example, as educational as this conference is, I know I can watch the breakout sessions on video later. Because of this, I use my time to attend networking events, set up meetings and go to parties. My money comes from meeting people, not from sitting in a room listening to someone talk.

Consider meetings carefully.

In my case, because I’ve been attending this conference for years. I have a profile and my inbox gets flooded with meeting requests as I try to organize my conference schedule.

As much as I may want to, I can’t take all these meetings. As I already mentioned, you can’t do everything there is to do at a conference. The result is I have to be pretty picky about which ones I take.

For example, I’ll always take meetings if they are for media interviews. I’ll also always take meetings for potential consulting clients or writing clients.

Everything else needs to be carefully researched by my virtual assistant before I make a decision as to whether or not I want to take it. When you only have a few days to grow your business while hanging out with friends you only see once a year, your time is limited and valuable.
How do you organize your schedule when you head out to a conference? Let us know in the comments!

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Amanda Abella is a full-time writer who specializes in online business and finance. She's also an online business coach and the Amazon best-selling author of Make Money Your Honey.

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