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Where do I start? Going to events

It can be confusing knowing where to start. I started attending tech events about 5 years ago. It was hit and miss! Here I explore what I think about when picking an event so you don’t have to.

Which events should I attend? After my third “conference” in four weeks, I’m thinking through how I choose events ad tips for people who are new to events. Most of the events I attend are technical or about co-operation. These tips however can be used for just about any flavour of event you’d like to attend.

Why even bother with events?

There are so many great reasons to attend events, here’s a few of mine:

  • Learning is fun!
  • Meeting new people is great for collaborating.
  • Meeting people like you stops you feeling alone (especially for women in tech).

But what if I’m an introvert? Both introverts & extroverts can leave events feeling energised, so long as they choose the right ones.

But I don’t know anyone! Perfect, go anyway! Pick events that are interesting, go with open mind and be present.

How I pick events

So I hope by now you’re pumped and raring to go. Here’s how I pick events to maximise that warm glow that comes from a great event and minimise the sinking feeling of wasting your time. It’s all down to this checklist:

1. Is the format right for me?

I prefer unconferences or structured training. These are opportunities to connect with interesting folk.  I find networking too much like sales, a real turn off. Your mileage may vary.

2. Who’s running the event?

This comes down to trust:

  • Can I trust the organisers to arrange a space that is safe, free from harassment and suitable for people with disabilities?
  • What’s the code of conduct?
  • How many women are going?

I share details of the events on twitter and the Open Heroines Slack channel for feedback.

3. What’s the cost?

I always check the total cost of attending. This means time off work, cost of staying over hotel, travel and meals.

4. What else do I need to think about?

Once my due diligence is done, I ask am I still excited to go? If the answer is yes, its time for the acid test. I ask:

  • What will I take away from this?
  • Is this a healthy schedule for me?
  • Will this work with my work schedule?
  • Is my absence fair on my colleagues?

What I do after an event

Once I’m back, I immediately write down my thoughts. I ask:

  • How did it go?
  • What did I love?
  • What did I hate?
  • Would I go again?

Be brutally honest! Memory is a finicky thing, so writing down my thoughts helps me remember clearly. If I learn something new about events, I tweak my checklist; It’s a living document.

And finally

There’s lots of great people, events and opportunities out there for women in technology,  even paid ones. So go out there, meet folks and be part of the conversation. When you’re ready to speak at events, subscribe to technically speaking, a great resource for tech speakers.

Got some tips? I love learning from you, so please get in touch.

Read this: Tips for conference newbies, second-timers, plus a CHALLENGE for many-timers

On Twitter? Follow my moment below:

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