Top 10 tips for the party conferences

The party conferences can be both daunting and exhausting. Making the most of your conference experience takes careful thought and planning.

Here are my top tips.

1. Think ahead

Plan which debates and fringe meetings you want to attend – think about who is speaking at each and who else likely to be there.

2. Avoid being fixated on the most senior politicians

This is where competition will be most fierce, so think about the people around them – party advisers, peers, backbench MPs, important local authority leaders and other charities may help you influence and give you vital information along the way.

3. Speak up

Asking a question at a fringe event is a great way to raise the profile of your issue – you may be surprised how many people will come up to you afterwards to ask about your work. Working out what you want to say and why is the most important step you can take – only then can you start to think through who you want to say it to.

4. Plan for the future

The person you are talking to in line for coffee may well be someone you need to know in five years’ time.

5. Look after yourself

Conference can be exhausting – flat shoes, a small bottle of water and a handy snack should keep you from flagging.

6. Easy does it

Part of the fun of conference is talking late into the night, but remember that networking is always best done sober and that every hour after midnight may slow you down the next day

7. Take the temperature

Although it’s easy to be distracted by the fringe remember that conference is also about what happens on the floor of the hall. If you have a pass that gives you access, soak up the atmosphere of the party by listening to some of the debates and speeches.

8. Use your down-time wisely

Aside from the debates in the main hall, “quiet times” are always mid-morning and mid-afternoon – use this time to meander through the exhibition hall – the staff on the stands are always willing to answer any questions you may have and they are a great source of freebies!

9. Follow up

Conference doesn’t finish when you get the train home – don’t forget to follow up on the contacts you’ve made (a quick e mail or linked in request) else all that careful networking will be lost!

10. Finally, be shameless

Everybody is there to meet people and network, so don’t be afraid to introduce yourself!


This is adapted from an earlier blog post that appeared in Guardian Voluntary.

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Avatar photo Chloe Stables, External Relations Manager, reflects on the latest political developments affecting the voluntary and community sector.

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