Attending my first big conference (especially on my own) was pretty intimidating! I didn’t know anyone and the tendency is to just keep to yourself, not talk to anyone and have a nice holiday. But if you want to make the most of the conference, that’s the last thing you should do!

Here are 3 tips I wished someone had shared with me before ISBE2016 …

Bring some name cards

This is a great way to motivate you to say hello people. Arguably even more important than giving a good presentation, the people you make friends with will form a network of colleagues who can help you and with whom you can collaborate.

Set yourself a target for new friends

Every day, take 3 name cards (or 5 or 10) out from their box and put them in your pocket and aim to give them all out by the end of the day. Say hello to people in between sessions, at lunch, at coffee breaks, anytime you can! Talk about what you do, what they do and get excited about the geeky science stuff you can do together!

Get involved and have fun

More than just the Gala Dinner, have lunch or dinner with somebody you didn’t know before every day. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can join someone, especially groups of people. Join the activities and tours organised. Take a leaf from Jim Carey’s “Yes Man” (at least for the duration of the conference): say “yes” to everything! go out, make friends, have fun! The science will follow…