ILTACON can be overwhelming for first-time attendees - the number of people, the immense vendor hall, your inbox overflowing with invitations for social events, and the expansive choices of educational sessions. It can be an assault on your brain and body. Fortunately, the ILTACON website provides great tips to help make your ILTACON experience more comfortable: drink lots of water, wear sensible shoes, bring a light jacket to the sometimes cool conference rooms, and pace yourself! As a veteran attendee of nine ILTA conferences and three years on the conference committee, I suggest trying a few uncomfortable activities to get even more out of your ILTACON experience:
- Go "all in" or don't go. One year I attended the ILTA conference during a time when a software deployment at my firm was not going well. Thinking I could multi-task, or maybe because I just needed to get away from the chaos for a few days, I attended the conference. I spent 50% of my time in my hotel room involved in meetings. My mind was not completely at the conference, but neither was it on the project. In hindsight, it would have been better for me to not attend and give my registration to someone who would have taken advantage of everything ILTACON had to offer.
- Attend at least one session "outside your wheelhouse". My role and interests revolve around legal applications for productivity and collaboration, training, and support. During one of my first ILTA conferences a couple of my colleagues were speakers on a panel focused on corporate legal departments. I attended their session to give them a friendly face in the audience and the session gave me a couple things in return - the corporate perspective on the services law firms provide their clients and details about the technologies and processes they used. These insights have allowed me to have more informed conversations with the attorneys at my firm. Since then I have attended eye-opening sessions on information governance, security, and marketing technology. ILTACON provides a smorgasbord of topics - bon appetit!
Speaking of food... dine with different people. Try not to have meals with co-workers or people you already know (the dining room is massive and you might not even find them!) Mealtime is a great time to network and make new contacts. Conversation starters are readily available - besides talking about food, chat about which sessions you have attended and what you thought, or commiserate on how late you stayed up last night at the [fill in vendor name] party. If you're not in a chatty mood or maybe a little shy, mealtime is also a good time to eavesdrop. Listen to what people are talking about - their firm's pain points, a vendor they're working with, or an application they are deploying. If a topic interests you, then join the conversation.
Make the most out of ILTACON and get uncomfortable!