1. Research your instructor or speaker. Read their book(s). Read their blog. Find out everything you can about them. This way, you'll have relevant questions but also understand where they are coming from when they present a topic.
2. Do the assigned readings. How are you going to participate in a workshop, especially one that critiques student work, if you don't actually read the work and think about it ahead of time? Learning to write is as much about learning to read. If you're going to put in the money, why wouldn't you put in the time?
3. Bring business cards. Lawyers have business cards and they feel important. You can too. Not to mention, they are important for maintaining contacts with the fellow writers you meet. A big part of going to conferences is networking. And cards make it that much easier. And they make you look professional.
4. Follow up. If you've met people you clicked with, including the speaker or instructor, make sure you send them an email or connect in some way afterwards to seal your bond. Maybe you interview them for your blog. Maybe you follow them on Twitter. Like every business, publishing is one too. And who you know counts.
5. Write. After you attend a conference, ideas and critiques are fresh in your head. There's never been a better time to sit down and experiment with your writing.
How do you make the most of the writing conferences you attend?