Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Conference – My FNCE Recap

The past four days have been absolutely fantastic and a bit of a whirlwind.

I was in Boston, MA with NOW Foods for my first ever FNCE and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to be there.

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

I learned a lot of nutrition information including stuff on hot topics like coconut oil and saturated fat, things that are near and dear to my heart like the low FODMAP diet, and topics that are totally out of my comfort zone like eating disorders.  The networking at this event was honestly beyond anything I could have expected, and the support I felt from every single person I spoke with was fantastic.

This was my first ever nutrition conference, but I learned a few things along the way that helped me really make the most of this conference and will be helpful tips for other events and conferences I attend in my field.

Tips to Get the Most Out of a Conference

  • Go into the event with a plan. 

I’ll be honest in saying, I wasn’t as prepared as I would have liked to be for this event prior to arriving to Boston.  After speaking with some pretty inspiring individuals, I decided to fine tune my plan and set some goals for myself for the end of the conference.

My plan included which sessions I wanted to attend each day, who I wanted to meet with, and what companies and organizations I wanted to talk to about potential collaboration opportunities.  Getting really detailed with my plan allowed me to feel super successful at the end of each day and the conference overall.

  • Step outside of your comfort zone.

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

I did partner with NOW Foods to attend this event, but when I wasn’t working at the NOW booth I was on my own for all of the sessions and exploring the expo.  Honestly, at first I was kind of nervous because I didn’t have a friend to fall back on.  Instead of letting my nerves inhibit me, I decided I needed to just go for it and I introduced myself to every single person I met, followed through with the plan I made for myself, and made friends along the way.

Stepping outside of the comfort zone is also important when selecting which sessions to attend.  At first I was playing things really safe and attending topics about things I already have a pretty good grasp on.  By the end of the conference, I attended some sessions on topics that I have no background in and realized how much there was to learn.  The new-to-me topics were fascinating and gave me a fresh set of ideas and perspective!

  • Learn more about your topic area.

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

While it’s important to step outside of your comfort zone and attend topics that are in new-to-you areas, I think it’s also important to learn more about topics you are passionate about.

One of the sessions I attended was presented by Kate Scarlata on FODMAPs, and it was very informative.  I learned more about the specific types of FODMAPs, how they differ, and how food preparation may alter the FODMAP content in foods.  I also had the chance to meet some people from Monash University, which is where the low FODMAP learning diet was developed.

  • Contact people you want to connect with before the conference.  

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

Me with Kate Scarlata

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

Meme from Living Well Kitchen, Rachael from Avocado a Day Nutrition, Anne from Fannetastic Food, and ME!

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

Joy Bauer (from the Today Show) and Me

Pictured above are a few of the people I met, but I met SO many more RDs and RD2Bes that I previously connected with on the internet.  It was honestly a bit unreal.  I have followed some of these people for years, so to finally meet them in person was really the cherry on top of the entire weekend.

Because I contacted so many of these people before the event, I was able to schedule time to sit down and really talk with some of them.  There were so many words of wisdom and tidbits of advice, I am very thankful I had my notebook and pencil 😉

  • Be flexible and take some down time away from the conference.

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

Those who know me in person know that “flexibility” is not one of my strong points, in life or when stretching my muscles 😉  I am the type of gal who thrives on routine, needs to know the hour by hour itinerary, and gets antsy when I don’t know what to expect.  That being said, putting some time in my schedule for “free time” allowed me to schedule opportunities for flexibility, which took a bit of the stress and anxiety away.

Allowing for a bit of spontaneity also allowed me to try new restaurants, meet new friends, and explore a bit of Boston…which takes me to my next point:

Take time away from the conference!

Going to back-to-back conferences, meeting new people constantly, and being in stimulus overload is a bit much even for extroverts like me.  I found it so refreshing and relaxing to take time away from the conference to walk downtown, explore some of Boston’s adorable neighborhoods, and soak up all of the information that was just put into my brain.

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

FNCE 2016 - How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

Thanks for a wonderful time, Boston.

Until next year, FNCE 🙂

Question of the Day:

  • What are some tips you have for making the most out of conferences or work learning sessions?
  • Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Comments

  1. Wait I think we’re twins! I’m so sad I wasn’t able to make the conference this year and buddy up with ya…but there’s always next year (and if you’re ever in NYC, seriously reach out!!)! xo

  2. OMG you are too cute with your big Siggi’s jar. LOL! Looks like a fun time!

  3. Tara, it sounds like a very productive conference. I am so happy for you!
    For me, the best time at conferences is after my talk or poster presentation so I can breathe and enjoy people and my time 😉 I do agree with you about stepping out of your comfort zone. It used to be difficult for me to start a conversation with new people at professional meetings, but I just practiced to get myself out there and enjoy the moment! 🙂

  4. Glad you had such a great experience! YOLO!

  5. Wonderful meeting you!

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