Developer conferences are incredible opportunities for learning, networking, and staying updated with industry trends. To make the most of your conference experience, consider these tips.
1. Take fewer notes.
Avoid overloading your notes. While attending talks, the desire to capture every detail can be strong, but it’s important to strike a balance. Many sessions are recorded, so don’t feel pressured to transcribe everything. Instead, aim to grasp the core concepts.
Learn from the Cornell Method. High School often forces kids to learn how to take these. And there’s a reason. If you’re familiar with the Cornell note-taking technique, you can apply it here. Divide your notes into key ideas/questions and answers to help structure your thoughts.
Sketch a roadmap for learning. Rather than attempting to absorb everything during the talk, focus on outlining general concepts. You can dive deeper into the details later when you review your notes. For example, if a lecture discusses that you should always do dependency injection when testing coroutines, note the concept and delve into the specifics later.
In this way, your notes give you a rough outline or study guide into different topics you can study to improve your knowledge as a developer. You do have to do the work to bridge the understanding but this way you can at least pay better attention to the visuals during talks without feeling like the information is lost.
2. The early bird gets the worm.
Arrive promptly. Sometimes with the amount of people at talks, it’s hard to find a good place and time to pause and socialize. A good way to take advantage of the existing structure of the conference is to get to talks early and sit next to people who you do not know. Getting to sessions early has several advantages. It secures you a favorable seat and offers an opportunity to engage with fellow attendees.
Network actively. Seize the chance to introduce yourself to those seated nearby. You might be surprised by who you meet — an influential startup CEO, a fellow developer facing similar challenges, or a potential colleague. Many attendees come to conferences not just to learn but to build connections so you’re already at a place where this is expected.
Overcome social anxiety. If you’re introverted or have social anxiety, remember that these interactions are typically brief and confined to the talk’s duration. If a connection doesn’t materialize, that’s perfectly fine; talks usually last around an hour. However, you might just end up forming valuable connections and friendships.
3. Embrace new tools and technologies.
Explore innovative tools. One of the great things to adopt from other developers is the tools and plugins they use. Often the companies who make them will be promoting at these conferences. Conferences serve as showcases for emerging tools and technologies. Companies often offer free credits for testing their products, making it a risk-free opportunity for experimentation.
Share with your team. Don’t keep your discoveries to yourself. Introduce the tools and technologies you come across to your team. This not only enhances your own skills but also benefits your organization by staying up-to-date with the latest advancements.
4. Follow up.
Meeting people is only the beginning and it’s actually the easier part. The harder part is sustaining these connections. A simple method is to connect with them on LinkedIn. Regularly share relevant posts and interact with your new contacts. This helps keep your network alive and can lead to valuable advice and collaborations in the future. People are a lot more likely to respond positively to a familiar face especially one that makes a lot of contribution to their professional community. Don’t be a stranger.
Developer conferences offer tremendous opportunities for growth. By implementing these strategies, you can maximize your conference experience, enhance your knowledge and skills, and cultivate lasting relationships within the tech community. You or your company paid $250 + plus for your ticket. Make it worth the money.