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While it may not be time to pack your suitcase just yet, it’s never too early to start preparing for a meaningful conference experience. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help you make the most out of your time at the conference, with recommendations for prepping beforehand, maximizing your time during, and following up on your experience after the conference.

Before Opticon:

Start networking now: Introduce yourself to peers and touch base with old contacts who will also be attending. Use the Opticon event page on Facebook and our Twitter hashtag – #opticon2015to find and connect with like-minded folks, and keep track of who you’d like to meet. Reach out ahead of time to schedule time to grab a coffee, drinks, or a meal while you’re together in San Francisco (check out our list of recommendations below). Consider encouraging each person to invite 1-2 people from their own network, broadening the potential of the meeting and increasing your chance to meet more folks in the industry.

Opticon-Mobile-App-PhoneDownload the mobile app beforehand to plan your schedule and get acquainted with the event space. During Opticon, you can use the app to interact with fellow attendees, build your personalized Opticon agenda, and give feedback on sessions in real-time. Plus, you’ll earn points for each activity which you can cash in for some sweet Optimizely swag!

Set goals: Take some time to reflect on your business goals, your optimization program, and your career. What’s working well? What are you hoping to improve upon? Use the answers to these questions to come up with 1-2 goals for your time at Opticon. Whatever your goals are, keep them in mind as you review the agenda and plan your time. Make sure the sessions, talks, networking opportunities, and other activities you attend map toward them.

Sign up for roundtables: Looking to connect with others in a similar industry, vertical, or people who are experiencing a similar challenge? The Optimization Roundtables are your chance to build connections with others that are trying to accomplish a similar goal. Join a roundtable on a topic of your choosing and participate in a discussion on best practices led by an industry expert.

During Opticon:

Get social: You can’t be everywhere at once, so use social media to your advantage. In the Opticon app, go to Settings > Connect Your Accounts > pick your social account. Sign into it with your social credentials. Check out what’s going on throughout the conference using the #opticon2015 hashtag. Join the conversation and share your photos, videos, takeaways, and more. Connecting on social during the conference is a great way to meet fellow conference-goers and share your learnings and ideas.

Connect with the speakers: The speakers and panelists at Opticon are some of the leading experts in experience optimization and personalization. They’re doing ground-breaking things at their companies and are excited to share what they’ve learned with you. Use this opportunity to ask questions, get feedback, and connect with the folks who are making waves in the industry. In addition to meeting the speakers in person, you can connect with them through the Opticon app or follow the Opticon 2015 speakers list on Twitter.

Follow the “One Key Takeaway Rule”: From innovative strategies to intriguing stories, actionable optimization tips to high-impact test ideas, each Opticon session will be packed with a wealth of knowledge for you to take back to your own business. It can be a lot to take in. That’s why we recommend the “One Key Takeaway Rule”: for each session you attend, focus on coming away with one actionable takeaway. After the session is over, ask yourself what struck you. What’s the single most important point to convey to your team or business? Write it down and **distinguish it** in your notes. Focusing on one key takeaway will help each session stick in your mind, and arm you with actionable information to share with peers and colleagues.

Take advantage of the Expo Experience: In between sessions, take some time to explore the Expo Hall – another great spot to network with your peers and industry experts. This year, the Expo Hall will host 20+ expert solutions providers and technology companies specializing in everything from user testing to checkout funnel conversion to mobile analytics. Stop by the Optimizely Innovation Station to get your technical and strategic questions answered by our Customer Success team in person. Then, head over to the Optimizely booth for an in-depth product demo or an overview of our new features and products.

Shake it off… at the Opticon Bash on Wednesday 6/17:  Eat, drink, and take a few selfies to commemorate the connections you’ve made at Opticon 2015.

Enjoy a true San Francisco experience: There’s lots to do and see here in SF! If you’re traveling in from out of town, we hope you’ll take some time to explore the area and get a taste of what the “City by the Bay” has to offer. Grab a bite to eat at Fog City, Pier 23, Piperade, or Coqueta – all located within walking distance of Opticon. For a bit of SF history and culture, stop by Telegraph Hill to check out Coit Tower and the wild parrots, or visit the Ferry Building Marketplace, which transforms into a world-class farmer’s market on the weekend.

After Opticon:

Follow-up with new contacts: Solidify the connections you made at Opticon by adding peers on LinkedIn, Twitter, and your other social networks. Reach out while the connection is still fresh. Keep track of all the folks you met at Opticon in one place, so it’s easy for you to reach out next year to reconnect at the conference.

Share your experience with colleagues: Distill your key takeaways into notes (or even a brief slide deck) for colleagues and consider presenting them at your next team meeting. Sharing what you learned will help show value you got out of Opticon, while simultaneously strengthening your immediate or broader team, with new strategies, best practices, industry knowledge, and more.

We can’t wait to see you in San Francisco!