You took the time and spent the money to attend a meeting or conference. You drove or flew there and could have been doing a million other things instead. How can you get the most benefit from attending?

Step out of your comfort zone and take control over the value you come away with. I have often found that not only do I get useful information and ideas from the speakers at the meetings I attend but more often I come away with even more from talking with the other people attending. You already have something in common with everyone in the room because you all chose to attend the meeting. So how can you make the most of it?

Many people have a tendency to sit with others they know.  I suggest you do the opposite. Take advantage of the opportunity to network with all the people you don’t know by sitting with them instead of your friends. Introduce yourself and start a conversation. Whenever you have the opportunity, switch seats and sit next to a different person and start up a conversation with them. For example this could be when changing rooms for other sessions or meals. 

By the end of the meeting, you can meet and learn from many people and also reciprocate by offering information to help them as well.

Your goal should be to come away with two or three things you will actually put into use within 30 days of leaving, the meeting or conference. If you do that, it will have been a good use of your time.