The ultimate survival guide to our annual user conference

The ultimate survival guide to our annual user conference
June 23, 2015

The Exchange Community 2015 is quickly approaching—less than 90 days left! But who's counting?

Many of us will attend a conference or two this year and bring back some fresh new ideas and insights for our teams. With so many tracks and activities, it can be hard to know where to focus your energy and attention.

We put together a quick guide to help you get the most out of The Exchange Community—or any in-person professional development conference.

  1. Attend the pre-conference activities. They're worth it.

    Once the conference begins, you'll be rushing to get to your preferred sessions while trying to answer a few calls and emails in between. Take an extra day and attend some pre-conference activities. They're typically smaller and more hands-on, allowing you to ask detailed questions. Bonus: you can network in a relaxed environment with your peers and make some new friends to sit with once the conference starts.

    Browse the list of pre-conference activities at the Wdesk user conference, here.

  2. Plan your agenda in advance to maximize your CPE investment.

    Take time up-front to read the session descriptions and come up with a plan of attack. Traveling with a group? Divide and conquer to maximize everyone's time. Avoid the last-minute sprint at the end of the year to satisfy all your CPE requirements by planning your agenda up front.

    Select a track that's right for you at The Exchange Community, here.

  3. Get ready to come out of your shell a little.

    Eek! Let's face it, we can't all be extroverts. Mingling can be hard for some of us, especially at large events. Remember that the opportunities to learn from peers and experts outweigh the challenges, and you're all at the event for the same reason.

    Go ahead—break the ice. Here are tips to get started:

    • Take a deep breath. Do this even before you leave your room and come down to the conference space. You can do this.
    • Smile on the outside, and you'll smile on the inside. Visualization is key. If you smile and think you are going to have a good time, you will.
    • Pick out someone from the crowd and talk to them. You may find out you have more in common than being nervous. You can ask them a question like, "How did you get into accounting?" or "If you could have a superpower, what would it be?"

    Check out some conversation starters suggested by Business Insider.

  4. Take the time to enjoy your conference city.

    You're at the conference to learn, absolutely. But remember those study breaks you used to take in school? That's what evening events are for—relaxation and conversation. If you can, walk around the city you're in and explore. You deserve a little fun after flexing your mental muscles all day.

    Curious what Orlando has to offer? Take a look, here.

Getting excited yet? We are. We're thinking up our conversation starters right now.

See you in Orlando!

Mike Sellberg

About the author

Mike Sellberg is Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer at Workiva. He is the former EVP and CTO at iMed Studios and the former Divisional General Manager at Engineering Animation, Inc.