Conferences exist to bring people together in a venue that supports a specific topic or focus. They also exist to teach, promote, and support the topic or focus they were created to serve.
At BlogPaws, we serve our bloggers who love pets. We work hard to bring the right education via expert speakers and presenters, and to add in an exhibit hall with sponsors who not only support the conference with their sponsored dollars, but who also work hard to build exhibits and other opportunities in support of the attendees.
When I look at the fact that BlogPaws is a business conference, not a networking event, not a fashion show, not a party, though all of those things happen at our conferences, I want to urge registered attendees and possible attendees to bring your A game! That means prepare ahead of time. Here’s what I think you need to have, if you’re coming to a BlogPaws conference, and, actually, if you’re attending any business conference this year:
Business Cards. Not just any business cards. Review your current business cards and make sure they include the best way to contact you; a tagline for your business, to give people an immediate understanding of what you do; and a blank back. I say ‘blank back’ because you will want folks who take your card to have a way to write on the back – something you should also do with business cards you collect.
Comfortable shoes. Please take heed on this point. Ladies, high heels will not suit if you’re on the exhibit hall floor for more than an hour, then off to your chosen sessions. Do not let ‘fashion’ sidetrack you! Wear the pretty outfit but pair it with comfortable sneakers or soft soled shoes. Today, the design and production of great shoes offering great comfort are unending. Just ask Amazon.
Pen and paper. I know. I know. We live in a so-called paperless society. Using our cell phones or small laptop computers, we are prepared to document anything at a moment’s notice! And yet, those old fashioned ways die hard! I applaud you if you are able to take notes and jot down thoughts via your phone or laptop, even as you rush from room to room. Me, I prefer the pen and paper. And, in the end, it can’t hurt to have it along. Just think – you’re on the plane home and you’ve secured your laptop in your carry on which is packed in the overhead bin, and…you’re in the window seat. Your notebook and pen are probably in your purse or jacket pocket. Simple and easy to retrieve and review and make new thoughtful notations in.
A variety of outfits but… not too many! Save room in your luggage for swag and other items you may receive or purchase. Some folks bring an extra small suitcase. The point here is that you can wear the same skirt or jeans or slacks more than once paired with two different tops, perhaps. You can save space and energy by coordinating your wardrobe ahead of time. If you feel the need to bring two outfits for each day, given you’ll be at the conference for three or more days, slap yourself. Or, better yet, think hard about why you feel the need to do so. Your colleagues and even new friends you meet are not going to care about your clothes. Think about it – do you waste time critiquing other people outfits or do you shake hands and talk about business?
A sweater. Following #4, I do recommend a sweater. Conferences are notoriously cold. Understand that the organizers of the conference and even the event planner, have no control over the temperature. The hotel regulates it according to a general need, not a specific room. If it was possible to have each room set at a different temperature, and the hallways to be at another temperature and the exhibit hall at another, it would be so. It is not so. Prepare for cold, and for any inclement weather outdoors, as I expect you will venture outdoors at whatever event you are attending.
A plan for success. Who do you want to meet and talk with at this conference? Write it down. Write down why and how you’ll go about meeting this person or persons. What do you want to accomplish at the conference? Why? Jot down your goals. It’s well known that writing it down makes it more likely you will strive to make it happen!
A plan to take advantage of downtime. Conferences are exhausting. Regardless of how short or long the conference is, the activity exhausts the best of us and wears out the rest of us! If you do not plan in downtime, that half hour here and there for ‘me-time’, whatever that is for you, you may end up so tired, your brain shuts down. I am serious. You will forget your plan for success, you will slowly melt into the floor, and your precious time meeting new people and gathering leads, will disappear in a fog of weariness. When you awake, you will look at your notes (wherever you have kept them) and they will say, @#%&*… oh, not the bad language kind of @#$%&, just the “What the heck does that say?” kind. Be nice to yourself and find time to relax, whether with friends or alone, just relax.
I’m sure there are many other items we should bring to conferences. What did I leave out? What are you bringing to BlogPaws this year… in addition to your amazing pet?
If you see me at BlogPaws, stop and ask me what I left out of this list… there is one more thing you should bring that I will reveal to folks who stop me at the conference in Phoenix. See you there!
Yvonne DiVita is a Co-Founder of BlogPaws. She is dedicated to storytelling and the human-animal bond. When not working on BlogPaws, she writes at Scratchings and Sniffings and The Lipsticking Society. You may contact her at Yvonne@blogpaws.com .