In December, I was fortunate enough to attend the International Colloquium on Design, Branding and Marketing, hosted by the University of Manchester. This was a three-day colloquium, consisting of a range of research topics, presentations, and open discussions with academics from around the globe.  

Reflecting on this experience has given me some real food for thought that I would love to share!  

Firstly, the importance of “just going for it” – whether that is a conference, a networking event or one of the many other opportunities that arise throughout your PhD. While such events can be daunting – especially when you are in the early stages of your research – they do get easier with time (I promise!) presenting / discussing your research with others not only prepares you for your viva but also allows you to gather feedback and insight that may better your research. On that note, I would emphasise the value of giving feedback to others – posing questions or raising comments on others’ research is an important skill and one that can take time to develop – so why not start now! 

Secondly, is to not overthink. It is normal to feel overwhelmed or overloaded with information at a conference, however trying to take it a day (or even a track) at a time helps you to slow down and remain present during each aspect of the conference. Planning / preparing for the conference can also help with this – go through the conference programme and see what talks / presentations may be of interest to you. Check out guest speakers and key presenters who you wish to talk to. Attending the conference feeling prepared and with goals in mind can help you feel less overwhelmed – and even excited!  

A final point, networking is a crucial aspect of any academic event – no matter how big / small, formal / informal – and so the ability to make connections and get your name out there is vital. ICDBM presented the perfect opportunity for me to do this. From formal chats after each presentation to informal chats at lunch, I have come away having made some great connections with academics whose research interests align with my own – and some that do not! 

My biggest takeaway from attending this conference is to “just go for it”. You have nothing to lose and only everything to gain! And granted, not every conference is going to be 100% but by reflecting on your experience and understanding what you have gained from it – and what you would do differently – you are better equipped for  your next event.   

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