The 4P strategy – tips to attend a Data Science conference
With an information overload around us, and it is becoming increasingly impossible to keep up with the latest and greatest tech advances. Conferences are another medium that contribute to this vast ocean and that too in just a few days. While they are important to attend, it is crucial to choose which one’s will yield the most value for oneself and prepare for these (almost) week long spectacles.
I categorize conferences into three high levels – Career, Academic, Venture Capital. All three require a different formula in terms of preparation but I personally I have found the following 4 P’s to work for all of them:
- Prior research – This is the most important step – look up the sessions, speakers, workshops and hackathons. I categorize them into ‘Can’t miss’ and ‘Can miss’ categories and aim to at least attend all on the first list.
- This step also includes reservations – flights and hotel. Nobody likes to spend hours commuting to a venue with a few hundred people attending the same event.
- Planning – I like to plan around the conference. Some involving networking events before and after the scheduled sessions are a great opportunity to connect with industry leaders, peers and other fellow attendees. Travel light and use technology at your disposal.
- It’s good practice to have appropriate and enough business cards on hand while at a conference. Also, a well thought elevator pitch sets the base of a conversation.
- Participate – My favorite sessions are those that involve the audience, make them think on their feet and allow active participation. It’s crucial to take notes and ask questions, participate.
- Post Conference – Revisit your notes, reflect and follow up with speakers and companies depending upon your interest and intent. That will reinforce your experiences/conversations and help you make an impact.
It’s easy to see and forget. Summarizing your learning and sharing it with your network/team can also be a post conference activity. It might lead to some interesting ideas.
For me personally, attending conferences takes all the strength – mental and physical. There is a lot of planning that goes in and it’s best to limit to 1-2 conferences every year. They help me expand my network multifold and are war chests of tons of new information, ongoing developments in data science, ML and AI, and other technologies.