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Attending an industry conference can sometimes feel overwhelming. Juggling session schedules, facility maps, and EXPO hall navigation isn’t likely something you’re going to master the first time. Add this to what’s likely an already busy workload can lead to long days. And here you thought a few days out of the office would be a nice break!

Despite the negatives, attending a conference in the customer service industry in particular can be extremely valuable to the future of your business. Here’s our quick guide on attending customer service conferences and how to get the most out of your time at these events.

Plan ahead and schedule accordingly – If a conference publishes its sessions online (most do nowadays), take the time to review who is speaking and the topics discussed. Depending on the conference, you may need to pre-register for sessions to make sure you get a spot in that key breakout discussion you really want to attend. Because only so many people can be allowed in specific rooms (due to fire codes), you don’t want to be shuttled off to a satellite room to watch it on a TV or miss out altogether.

Ask the speakers one-on-one questions after a session – One of the best parts of attending a customer service conference is all the speakers understand the importance of meaningful customer interaction. These shows aren’t super technical and usually don’t boast famous, closed-off speakers. Most speakers would be happy to chat individually with you after their session to offer advice on how their topic may impact your unique business needs.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your peers – These conferences can have some down time, and while many people work during these moments, meeting new colleagues can have huge benefits. Professionals in the customer service industry are generally chatty people, so don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation if the moment is right. One of the best things about attending a conference is it gets you out of your own workplace to have real business conversations with your industry peers. It’s a great way to get information and advice from someone who understands what its like to be in your shoes.

Make at least one trip through the EXPO hall floor – Even if you’re a busy executive, take a half hour out of a day while you’re at the conference to walk the EXPO hall. You’ll find a lot of great information, from new products in the industry to how specific companies are positioning themselves for their target audience. For example, if you are a B2B company, you can keep an eye out for products and services marketed specifically for B2B customer service. There are two main strategies when walking the EXPO hall; either start early and chat with people at your own pace, or show up around lunch and “blend in” to avoid pushy sales conversations. Either way, arriving later in the day isn’t advised as employees on the floor are often tired and not as invested in what you have to say.

We hope this brief guide on attending customer service conferences was helpful. Plan a little in advance, be ready to strike up conversations, and come with a willingness to learn. You’ll have a great time!