From Rusty to Ready: How to Successfully Navigate In-Person Conferences


By Jamy J. Sullivan, JD, Robert Half


I last attended an in-person conference before the start of the pandemic, and I have an event to attend next month. Any advice for making the most of a professional industry conference?



Fundamentally, you want to maximize your time and the cost of attending an industry conference. Here are five tips to help you prepare for and benefit from your upcoming event. 

1. Plan ahead

Before you go, review the agenda and speakers so you can decide in advance which sessions and events you want to attend. Also, research the exhibitors and sponsors and schedule meetings with them if their products or services interest you. Planning will help you avoid missing out on valuable opportunities and wasting time on irrelevant ones. 

2. Network strategically

One of the main benefits of attending a legal conference is meeting new people and expanding your professional network. However, you don’t have to talk to everyone or collect every business card. Instead of focusing on the number of people you can add to your network, seek out those who share your interests, goals or challenges. Leverage social media to let those in your network know you’re attending and also to connect with attendees before and during the conference. 

3. Learn actively

Attending a legal conference is not only a way to earn continuing education credits but also a chance to learn new skills, insights and best practices from experts and peers. To make the most of your learning experience, ask questions, take notes and participate in discussions. Follow up with the speakers or other attendees if you want to learn more or share your feedback. 

4. Apply what you've learned

After the conference, don’t let your notes and materials gather dust. Instead, review them and identify the key takeaways and action items relevant to your practice or career. Share what you’ve learned with your colleagues or clients and implement any worthwhile ideas or strategies you’ve gained.

5. Follow up with your contacts

The conference doesn’t end when you leave the venue. Follow up with your new contacts within a week or two to maintain and strengthen relationships. Send them an email, a LinkedIn message or a handwritten note thanking them for their time and expressing your interest in staying in touch. You can also suggest a specific way to follow up, such as scheduling a call, meeting for coffee in person or virtually or collaborating on a project. 


Attending a conference can be a rewarding experience if you prepare in advance, stay engaged at the event and apply what you learn going forward. You will gain new knowledge and skills and, just as importantly, forge new relationships to benefit your practice and career.

Jamy J. Sullivan is executive director of the legal practice at Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized talent solutions firm. Robert Half offers contract, temporary and permanent placement solutions, and is the parent company of Protiviti®, a global consulting firm. Visit