After attending many conferences over the last year or so, I consider myself to be a conference veteran. I have a boot camp type of ritual that I go through before every conference to make sure that I have everything I need, especially since most of the conferences I attend are in different cities, and I am not able to go back home and retrieve what I left. You don’t have to go to the conference with bags full of items, but you do want to make sure you have the essential items you need in order to make your conference experience effective.
Here is my list of 6 things you must take with you to a conference:
Updated business cards: I cannot stress to you how important it is for you to have updated business cards with all of your contact information included on it. Forget the scratching out old numbers and email addresses, or not including your phone number or Twitter handle. Have all of the ways to contact you listed correctly and make sure you don’t make the mistake I made earlier this year. Order your cards several weeks in advance so that if there are errors or typos, you can get them corrected before the conference begins.
Laptop AND iPad/Tablet: When attending a conference, most allow for wifi access so that you can live blog, tweet, takes notes, etc. Make sure you have a fully charged laptop or tablet with you at the conference. Don’t just rely on your tablet, however, because you may still need your laptop to do other tasks that a tablet may not allow you to do. You can always leave the laptop in the hotel room and use it when needed. Not bringing it at all may be a FAIL.
Chargers: Having all of your chargers with you is critical to being efficient in a conference. Make sure that you have a bag that holds all of your chargers, and carry that bag inside on your carry on luggage on your flight if your are flying. You can also use something like iGo which allows you to charge your smartphone on the go without having an outlet. This is perfect when you are unable to secure a section by the wall during the conference sessions.
Elevator Pitch: You will meet a lot of people, many of whom will not be familiar with you or what you do. Make sure you have your elevator pitch ready so that you can easily say what you do in 30 seconds or less. Make sure that you are concise yet fluent when giving your pitch and practice it a few weeks before conference with others so that you are on point and ready to go.
Room for the Swag: Conferences these days create an opportunity for you to take home freebies and swag (or schwag), and lots of it. You want to be able to take all of your goodies with you, so make sure you leave room in your luggage for the freebies you are sure to acquire. Bring an extra duffle bag or large tote, which can easily be folded up in a suitcase, and used on the flight back home.The extra baggage cost may be worth it.
Calendar of sessions/events: During a major conference, there are so many things going on. So it’s important for you to plot your course and determine what sessions and presentations you want to attend before you arrive at the venue. Put your chosen sessions on your smartphone calendar or Outlook so that you know where to be at what time. Also, include any parties or get togethers on your calendar as well. You can also synch your calendar with other friends and conference goers when using Google Calendar or Outlook.
Going to conferences are great for your business and for your brand, and having a plan of attack always helps. I hope these 6 tips will help you during your next conference attendance.