At your next professional conference, balance the time spent in formal sessions with informal time talking to others in your field.
Three ways to reap the benefits of a conference, beyond the tracks:
1. Hallway huddles: Between sessions, build relationships with smart people working in similar roles.
2. Round-table discussion: Pull up a chair next to new people at every meal.
Sometimes, you’ll get more from these sit-downs than from a formal conference session.
3. Party talk: You’ll be tired. But resist the urge to head back to your room at the end of the day. Make a beeline for that new, interesting person you want to meet.
To get those hallway and meal-time conversations started, ask the other person something related to the conference, such as, “What do you think of the speakers so far?” suggests Eduard Ezeanu, founder of Conversation Starters.