How to make the most of Bond Conference

12 February 2020
Author: Lena Bheeroo

In just a few weeks, we’ll be hosting the biggest international development event in Europe. Over two days in March, the Bond Conference and Awards 2020 brings together around 150 expert speakers and 800 attendees in London to interrogate the latest trends and challenges in our sector. 

Our wide-ranging programme is jam packed with 34 thought-provoking sessions, including talks by renegade economist Kate Raworth, environmental activist James Wakibia and Pan-African feminist Aya Chebbi.  With so much going on over two days, here are some tips I’ve picked up over the last few years to help you get the most out of this year’s conference.   

Before you get there

1. Download the Bond Conference app (you can do this by searching for “Attendify” in your app store, downloading the Attendify app and then typing in “Bond Conference”). Set up a profile in the app so that other delegates know who you are and can connect with you. In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, we will not be providing printed programmes this year. So make sure you download the app.

2. Conference is an opportunity to network with other people from the sector and meet new people. Use the hashtag #bondconf to let people know you are attending the conference on social media.

3. Familiarise yourself with the programme and choose the right sessions for you. The app and our website have an overview of each session and a list of the speakers in that session to help you choose.

At the conference

4. Face to face first, phone second. Yes, you should be tweeting about the conference, but don’t forget to look up and speak to people. Whether you’re sitting in a session or waiting for a coffee, you never know who you will be standing next to. The conference is a great place to make new connections which could lead to opportunities for collaboration or personal development. 

5. Make sure you know which sessions you’re going to and where they are. Sessions fill up fast, so get to the room early to get a seat! If you find yourself in a session that isn’t what you thought it was going to be, don’t be afraid to leave and go to another one of the six that are running at the same time.

6. Take notes. The conference is full of panel debates, talks and workshops exploring diverse topics, so there is a lot to take in. However you take your notes (on a laptop or on paper), make sure to write down three key points at the end of each session you attend. This will make it easier for you to come back to what you’ve learned.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The speakers in each session are experts in their field, so this is your chance to get answers to your burning questions. No question is too silly! This is your chance to learn and get inspired. This year we will have a dedicated “open space” session, which is your chance to explore any issues or challenges that haven't been covered in the rest of the programme. Come with your ideas and get talking.

8. Find out more about the inspiring people and projects nominated for the Bond International Development Awards in the Whittle room.

9. Stop by the Bond stand to pick up recent Bond reports and learn more about our work and services. 

10. Bring your business card. Be prepared to exchange cards and connect. Try jotting down a note on a card you’re given - this will help when following up with them.

11. Meet the organisations exhibiting. Some are NGOs while others are trusted suppliers to the sector. They can help you with your area of work and offer advice.  

12. Check out the networking zone in the Whittle room to help you connect with each other. 

13. Bring a charger. We’ll have four charging lockers throughout the exhibition rooms (Britten and Whittle). 

14. Grab a coffee to stay alert. There will be coffee and water points on the 3rd floor. Water points are also available in each room, so stay hydrated!

After the event

15. Join us for drinks at the end of the first day in the Cambridge room. We also invite you to attend the Bond International Development Awards after and celebrate the inspiring people and work of the Bond network.

16. Follow-up with those people you met at the conference while you’re fresh in each other’s minds. Connect on LinkedIn, email or Twitter. Go further and set up meetings with those you want to collaborate with.

17. You will learn a lot at the conference through informative and inspiring conversations. Why not blog about it to share it with your co-workers and network? Share the learning!

Book your place at Bond Conference 2020 now.

This is an updated version of our original blog from 2019.

About the author

Lena Bheeroo

Lena is the events and programme manager at Bond.