5 tips to prepare for party conferences in 2023
Ah, summer recess! With parliamentarians off to the beach it’s time to kick back and relax! Or is it…
As party conference season is just around the corner, if you are attending party conferences in 2023, now is the time to prepare to maximise the impact of your attendance.
Whitehouse Communications is raring to go for this year’s Conference season which is going to set the tone for the next general election – the energy will be palpable. To help you, we’ve developed a few top tips to consider in the weeks before conference season.
1. Plan what you want to get out of the conference before you go
So, you know going to a party conference is probably a good idea, but what do you and your organisation plan to get out of going to conferences? Are there some key senior figures you want to talk to? Do you want to get the scoop on what the parties think about a specific policy area? It sounds obvious, but it’s worth agreeing some objectives with your colleagues in advance and plan how you will achieve them– otherwise with the frenzy of Conference, you might miss key opportunities.
2. Make a note of who you spoke to, what you spoke about, what to follow up with and when
There they are. The Minister you’ve been trying to get a hold of for months. You manage to get a few minutes with them, you said what you needed to say. Result – KPI ticked off!
But it is vital that you make a clear note of: actions; next steps; what you promised to send them and to which email address.
Even if you think you’ll remember the details of a conversation you had, you’ll be speaking to so many people throughout the event that by the time you have the headspace to follow-up with people, you’ll have forgotten key details. When you get a moment, make a note on your phone of the key points of conversations. A few days after conference is then a great time, once the dust has settled, to send key reports and to firm up that blossoming professional relationship and take it forward into the future.
3. Schedule rest breaks
You’re not you when you’re hungry! Make sure to block out an hour or two a day to rest and have something healthy to eat instead of the luke-warm canapes that are everywhere at conference. Rest is productive – and you’ll find it much easier to network with people when you’re well rested.
4. Don’t rely on fringe events to make connections with key decision makers
Conference veterans will be the first to tell you that the best connections are often forged at the bar – not in the main hall or at fringe events. Whilst the latter are still worth attending, some of the most productive conversations will likely be ones happening outside official socials – so make sure to not pack your conference agenda too fully, or you might miss out on these opportunities!
5. Get on the list for social events ahead of time
Social events give you access to a broad range of people in a relaxed environment – and often for longer than the few minutes you might be able to grab with a Minister after a Q&A or at a fringe event. Most social events can be accessed without too much planning but some are a bit more exclusive (like The Mirror’s Labour Conference party) so it is worth rekindling your network in advance as well as at conference itself.
Here are some tickets for events that are available right now, with tickets either free or at low cost:
Conservative Party Conference | Northern Night Social: Monday 2nd October, free (link)
Labour Party Conference | LabourList Karaoke: Monday 9th October, £5 (link)
Scottish National Party Conference | The National Pre Conference Event: Saturday 14th October, £10 (link)
If you have any questions about the Party Conference season or if you need some advice on how to prepare to engage with politicians at Conferences, we’d love to hear from you. Get in contact with us here.