This 5-minute post is perfect advice for me, but YMMV

Week Before

1. Update your profile (pic, bio, contact). ~20 minutes

2. Schedule 20 one-on-ones - these are 10x more important than talks. Filter people by interests/stage in career/etc and cp-paste "Hey, I'm bob who works on [X]. Would you be interested in a 1-on-1 during the conference?" to the top 20 people (or bottom 20 because it's alphabetical order). You can actually save a lot of time by scheduling a specific time during your first message. No one is going to hate you if you send them these messages, haha ~10 minutes

  • Or, send the same message but with a more custom message after reading their profile ~60 minutes
  • Do NOT wait to set a time. Do that on the first or second message. You can say "I just picked an arbitrary time to chat! Feel free to decline and pick a better time for you if you'd like. No obligation:)" when you pick a time
  • Do NOT schedule 1-on-1's early in the morning if you're not a morning person

3. Work through what you want to talk about ~1/2-10hrs

  • Imagine what a smart person giving obvious advice would reply to what you wrote.
  • Google your questions
  • Keep a list of relevant links you want to send on your phone/tablet with a relevant blurb (eg "AI Safety support has links to funding/fellowships, free career coaching for those interested in alignment, and free health coaching for those working in alignment: https://www.aisafetysupport.org/" )

4. Put on your calendar/ set an alarm for after the conference to go over the material, contact people, etc ~2 minutes

5. If you have a talk you're interested in giving, just ask if you could give the talk through email w/ title, description, and possibly slides (I did this the Monday before, got it, and finished my slides by Wednesday, but it was a crunch)

During

1. Better 1-on-1s

  • If you're waiting on them to show up, read their profile real quick
  • Say "Just a reminder, I'm bob who works on X, is there anything you wanted to talk about?"
    • Don't do small talk "how are you finding the conference", but do do ("doo doo" hehe) "I'm fine, but do you want to grab some water or food". Or ask to do that if you want to.
  • Ask to sit, walk, go outside if you want to do that.
  • Sit an alarm on your phone for 5 till the end of your 1-on-1 so you don't have to worry about time
  • Have something to write with. Pen & folder or phone-notes may be best. A laptop was too much to get in& out of my backpack every 30 minutes. Write down all interesting thoughts, assume you'll forget the context because you will.
  • If they changed your mind, or gave you a good idea, say that at the end of the chat (eg. "for what it's worth, you updated me more towards X")
  • Ask "Do I want to talk to this person in a month or two?". If so, ask them AT THE END OF THE 1-ON-1 "Hey, I'd like to chat again to hear how your thoughts have changed in a couple of months; would you be interested?" and write that down.
    • Common schelling points are 1 month, Summer, Winter break, but specific to the person

2. If lunch is 12, get there at 12:30 or later to avoid the lines and loud atmosphere. Also, the line closest to the main entrance is likely 3x longer than the other lines. Spend 10 seconds looking at alternatives.

After

Go over your notes before you forget more context, and message people what you promised to send them, and set calendar reminders for actually calling people. (I use Roam research and calendly) ~1/2-10 hrs

Exhortation

Go spend 1-15 hrs the week before (some of which you can do even now), and get 10x the value compared to your counterfactual self (not an exaggeration)!

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now this is how you win the first-ever "most meetings" prize

Haha, yeah I won some sort of prize like that. I didn't know it because I left right before they announced to go take a break from all those meetings!