How To Survive A Conference As A New Freelancer

I remember the first conference I went to as a new freelancer. It was the National Freelancers Union Conference, and I had no idea what to expect. It was an amazing experience, but I didn’t know anything about how conferences worked for freelancers. 

Thankfully, I’ve since learned how to make the most of them. Here are my suggestions for getting the most out of your first freelance conference:

Setting Your Freelance Business up for Success – YouTube
Key Takeaways
1. Plan ahead and set clear goals for the conference.
2. Research the conference agenda and speakers.
3. Practice your elevator pitch and self-introduction.
4. Be open to networking and initiating conversations.
5. Attend workshops and sessions that align with your goals.
6. Bring plenty of business cards and promotional materials.
7. Stay organized with a notebook or digital app for notes.
8. Engage on social media before, during, and after the event.
9. Follow up with new connections after the conference.
10. Reflect on what you’ve learned and apply it to your freelancing journey.

Don’t Go In Without A Plan

Whether you’re at a conference for the first time or the tenth, it’s important to know that things can get hectic. With so many people in one place, it’s easy for things to get away from you even if you’re really good at paying attention to details and being on top of things.

It’s always better to be prepared and have some kind of game plan than just winging it without thinking about what might happen next. 

That way, if something does go wrong (and inevitably, something will), you can roll with the punches instead of panicking or throwing up your hands because nothing went according to plan. 

You’ll also feel calmer when other things do go wrong because those are easier questions: “How did this happen?” rather than “What am I supposed to do now?”

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Talk To Others

You should talk to everyone. This sounds like a silly mantra, but it’s true. People are the best source of information and advice you’ll have in your new career as a freelancer, so you need to have conversations with all kinds of people. 

Talk to people you know and people you don’t know; even if they seem boring or unhelpful, at least when that happens it will be familiar ground for what is a new experience for most people. 

Also, feel free to make small talk with those who are already successful in their fields: ask them questions about what their jobs are like and how they got started doing them!

And finally…don’t forget about networking! It may seem weird at first because nobody knows each other yet; 

But try asking around at social events or during breaks (if there are any) if anyone would be interested in talking one-on-one about careers or projects they’re working on right now.

And then actually doing this by setting up an appointment time slot beforehand so no one wastes valuable time standing around wishing someone else would take action first instead!

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Think Outside Of The Panel

Talk to other attendees. The most obvious way to network is by talking to other attendees. If you’re going to a conference, chances are there will be several other freelancers in attendance who are also new to this whole thing and that’s where your common ground lies! 

Don’t hesitate to reach out and say hello if you see someone who looks like they might be a freelancer, especially if they’re fidgeting uncomfortably or looking lost on their first day as you would be.

Talk with vendors and sponsors at the event. Vendors and sponsors can be great sources of information about the industry as well as cool places for networking events after hours (or even during), so don’t forget about them when you’re planning your schedule! 

You never know what kind of connections you’ll make while learning more about products or services related specifically to freelancers it could end up being helpful later on down the road when looking for clients yourself! 

Plus, everyone likes free stuff sometimes; I got this awesome pen just last month thanks entirely because its company was sponsoring an event I attended…so don’t forget: giveaways win hearts!

Take Advantage Of The Opportunities

New freelancers are often unsure about how to make the most of a professional event. Here are some tips for how to turn a conference into an opportunity:

Ask questions. If you want to know more about something, ask! There’s no shame in asking a question that’s what conferences are for, after all!

Introduce yourself when possible. The people at these events come from different companies and backgrounds.

So introducing yourself helps them put your name to your face so that they can connect with you later on down the line if they need help with something related to your skill set or industry. 

Make sure that they have both your business card and contact information (email address, phone number) so they can easily follow up with any questions or requests they might have later on down the road after meeting each other at a conference like this one.

Where there are lots of attendees but not enough space for everyone who wants their voice heard as well as making sure everyone gets fair treatment when it comes time for them to be heard out loud during any presentations given by others which may be important topics related.

Or solutions proposed during panel discussions held throughout this whole week-long event coming up soon next month here in LA County where many people travel from different countries outside America just by flying overseas just so we could attend these kinds of events together!

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Know-How To Choose Sessions

The best way to choose sessions is to look for ones that are relevant to your work, will have a big impact on your career, and will help you grow professionally. 

The more popular the sessions are especially those with long waitlists the harder it’ll be for you to get in, so don’t feel bad if you can’t make it into the session of your dreams. 

You may also want to consider scheduling time in between sessions or checking out panels or networking events instead of sitting through an entire lecture (and being stuck at a desk while doing so).

Don’t Spend Too Much On Food And Drink

There are many ways to spend money at a conference, but don’t let this happen to you. While it’s okay to spend a little bit on food and drink (we’ll get into how much is “a little” in a moment), don’t go overboard with the swag or sessions. 

And although networking is important, don’t spend money on travel expenses unless necessary.

Be Mindful Of Your Goals

Before you go, know what you want to get out of the conference.

What is your goal for the conference? Are you hoping to meet new clients, learn about some new tools, or simply make connections with other freelancers and entrepreneurs in your field?

What are your goals for your business? Do you hope to grow it in a particular way by attending this event by reaching out to potential clients who could help expand your clientele base, perhaps? 

Or maybe there’s something else that will help move things along (e.g., finding office space).

What are your goals for your career? Are there any skills or credentials that would help move up within the industry or self-employment world as a whole (e.g., teaching classes at local colleges)? This might be an opportunity for some networking if nothing else!

And finally: What are some personal goals that may be related to this conference (and/or other aspects of life). Maybe being around so many people who share similar interests will give us an extra boost when we’re feeling down about something else going on at home right now…

Bring Business Cards

Bring business cards. It’s the 21st century, and chances are good that if you’re attending a conference, you’ll meet some people who either could use your services or may know someone who needs them. You need a way to get in touch with them once the event is over!

Make sure they’re professional and well-designed. A good business card can do wonders for your image as a freelancer it’s an ad for your services that people will see every time they pull out their wallet or purse. 

If you don’t have time to make your own before heading to the conference, there are plenty of websites where you can buy pre-made cards at reasonable prices (and even print them out yourself). 

Make sure yours contains all of the necessary information: name, company name if applicable, contact info including phone number(s) and email address(es), website URL (if applicable), logo/designer credit line if applicable and don’t forget about social media profiles!

Don’t forget to bring a pen with which to write them! Chances are high that some attendees won’t already know what writing utensil works best on these things; better yet: bring both pens and pencils.

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Be An Expert

If you’re going to be attending a conference, you need to be an expert in something. The most obvious choice is the field in which your conference is taking place. 

For example, if you’re attending a WordPress meetup, then being an expert in WordPress would make sense. However, I don’t think this is enough. You should also be an expert on the people who are attending the conference and their topics of interest at that specific moment in time too!

That might sound like a lot of pressure but take it from me: if someone asks about something that has nothing to do with what your expertise lies within (for example: “What’s your opinion on GDPR? 

Are all my clients going to have data protection officers now?”), then go ahead and give them some advice on how they can prepare for these changes coming down soon! 

It will show them how useful it would be having someone like yourself around when they need help navigating through legal waters or even just advice on how best handle certain situations involving their business or personal lives.”

Be Open To Everyone And Everything New

As a new freelancer, you may be nervous about what you don’t know. You might not have experience in some of the areas that are traditionally associated with your skill set. 

That’s OK! The world of work is changing rapidly, and there are plenty of opportunities for those who are willing to learn and grow.

The best way to survive a conference as a new freelancer is by being open to everyone and everything new:

  • Be open to meeting new people
  • Be open to new ideas
  • Be open to trying new things (like networking!)
  • Be open to learning from others (they likely have much more experience than you)
  • Be open to learning from your mistakes (they help us learn)
  • Be open to learning from successes

Do Not Skip Meals Or Sleep

A lot of us fudge this one. We have to get up early, we have to stay out late, and we don’t feel like eating when we’re busy working. 

The problem is that skipping meals and not getting enough sleep can put you in a bad mood and make it impossible for you to concentrate on the task at hand. 

It also means that when it comes time for dinner or drinks after work, your body won’t be able to handle them like it normally would, and then suddenly all you want is a nap in your hotel bed!

The best way I’ve found around this issue is simple: pack snacks. If I know that I’ll be away from home for multiple days without access to kitchen facilities (or even restaurants).

Then I always try my best to bring some kind of snack with me wherever I go something tasty but small enough not to take up too much room in my bag.

Don’t Sit In The Back Of Sessions Sit In The Front

If you’re new to freelancing, conference season can be a time for you to make connections and build your network. You might have heard that sitting in the back of sessions is a great way to network with people. 

This isn’t always true especially if you’re new or haven’t attended many conferences.

The truth is that sitting in the front row gives you several benefits:

  • You get more out of each session (no one wants their voice drowned out by a rowdy group)
  • You make yourself known (people notice someone who sits up front)
  • You are seen (a speaker will see your face and remember it later when they might need help with something)

Listen, Listen, Listen!

There are so many opportunities to learn something new at a conference. You can listen to the speaker, but you should also be listening to other people in the audience. 

If they’re nodding their heads or whispering comments to each other, it’s a good indicator that they’re finding something interesting. 

The same goes for yourself: if you find yourself nodding along with the speaker’s words or enthusiastically participating in an activity on stage, take note of what worked for you and how you could apply it elsewhere.

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Share Your Story And Experience

Don’t be shy about sharing your story. You’re in the right place conferences are a great place to pitch your work and make connections. 

As a freelancer, it’s even more important that you network with potential clients. That means telling them about who you are and what you do, as well as sharing what makes your business unique and valuable to them.

Be open to feedback from other attendees, too (especially if they’re higher up than you). If someone has a criticism of your presentation style, keep an open mind and consider ways that it could be better next time around! 

The best way to learn is through trial and error: try new things at every opportunity; evaluate how they worked out; then improve upon those failures by doing more research before the next time around so that nothing slips through the cracks again! 

It’s never too late for growth we’ve all been there before so don’t stress out over anything too much just yet: instead focus on taking advantage of this opportunity while also enjoying yourself along the way!


If you’re a freelancer, then you’ve probably already realized what I did: the world is your oyster, and that applies to conferences as much as it does to your daily work. 

You get to be the person at the center of everything because you’re the one who decides what your business needs and that means freedom. 

Don’t be afraid to use it! Conferences are all about people coming together with different perspectives and experiences; we can even call them mini-conferences in their own right. This is what makes them so great: everyone has something new and valuable to offer.

Further Reading

Explore these resources for more insights on surviving conferences and freelancing:

Tips for Making the Most of Business Events
Discover strategies for maximizing your experience at business events to network effectively and gain valuable connections.

Survival Tips for Freelancers: How to Go Solo Without Going Loco
Learn essential tips from a fellow freelancer on how to navigate the world of freelancing and maintain your sanity.

5 Ways to Survive Attending a Conference Alone
Uncover strategies for thriving at conferences even when attending without companions. Gain confidence in networking solo.


How can I make the most of business events?

Attending business events can be highly beneficial for your freelance career. To make the most of them, prioritize networking, set specific goals, prepare an elevator pitch, and follow up with contacts afterward.

What survival tips can freelancers use to succeed?

Freelancers can succeed by setting clear boundaries between work and personal life, managing their time effectively, diversifying their client base, continuously updating their skills, and seeking support from a freelance community.

How can I survive attending a conference alone?

Surviving a conference alone involves initiating conversations with fellow attendees, attending networking events, using social media to connect beforehand, attending smaller sessions to foster connections, and reminding yourself that everyone is there to connect and learn.

How can I network effectively at conferences?

To network effectively at conferences, introduce yourself with confidence, ask open-ended questions, listen actively, exchange contact information, and follow up with your new connections after the event.

How do I maintain my sanity as a freelancer?

Maintaining sanity as a freelancer requires setting a regular work schedule, taking breaks, practicing self-care, seeking social interactions, finding a work-life balance, and seeking professional support if needed.