Attendee Etiquette 101: Tips to Enhance Your Experience

Another day, another conference. You’ve checked the weather and packed accordingly, confirmed your plane’s departure time and read through your agenda repeatedly. When you attend meetings on a regular basis, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of just getting through the day. However, being on autopilot can lead to forgetting simple attendee etiquette. Keep in mind the following tips to leave the right impression as a present, respectful and classy attendee.

1. Be on time. Nobody wants to be the person who sneaks in at the last minute and steals unwanted attention from a keynote speaker.

2. Put an effort into your greeting. When someone introduces themselves, give a strong handshake, make eye contact and smile. Repeat their name so they know you’re paying attention. When appropriate, exchange business cards before parting ways.

3. Wear your nametag. This is especially important if it lists a company you are representing. If your company is relevant to another attendee’s business, they are more likely to approach you. It also alleviates the embarrassment of other attendees should they forget your name.

4. Perfect your elevator pitch. The idea of an elevator pitch is to keep your business’s mission to a minute or less—any longer and it will feel as though you’re dragging on. By keeping it short, you’re also allowing questions that you may not have addressed in your initial pitch.

5. Don’t overschedule. Pick key workshops you’d like to participate in and speakers that are relevant to your reason for attending. You don’t want to take up a space that someone else could fill when you aren’t truly invested.

6. Say hello to the table. If you’re attending a sit-down lunch or dinner, it’s likely that you’ll end up at a table of strangers. Take initiative and introduce yourself—others will follow your lead, and it will likely to lead to conversation throughout the banquet.

7. Keep your phone on silent. There will always be somebody in the room who has forgotten to silence their electronics. Don’t let that person be you. If you must take a call, leave the room so as to not interrupt the session. Even sending a quick text can be a distraction to other attendees, so if you expect to look at your phone, sit in the back. If you plan on checking throughout the day, leave your phone on vibrate at the very least, and try to limit checking to in between presentations and workshops.

8. Don’t post too much to social media. It’s fine to let your followers know that you’re attending a convention, especially if it’s well-known. But don’t let your online presence take away from your in-real-life experience. Again: it’s fine to have your phone and check it throughout the day, but don’t let it become all-encompassing when you’re meant to be present.

9. Stay positive. It’s easy to make a negative comment when trying to bond with another attendee, be it about the long lines or loud music. But complaining can leave a bad taste in another attendee’s mouth. So, don’t spread the negativity. This is especially important for smaller events—you may burn a potential bridge you didn’t know was there.

10. Be timely in making connections after the event. Don’t lose others’ business cards or neglect to send thank you emails to anyone you may consider working with in the future. Following a large event, you can wait a few days before sending an email to ensure your message is not buried in their inbox.