It can be very exciting to be able to attend a conference or a trade show. However after the adrenaline of excitement wears off, One can be easily overwhelmed. What exactly should you bring to make sure you are prepared for any and all the conference has to offer? Keep reading you will find my picks on the top 10 things to bring to conferences.
I’m a pretty practical person. And although there is something to be said about putting your best foot forward, you don’t want to be seen hobbling around the tradeshow floor looking severely uncomfortable, so comfy shoes are a must. Keep an eye out for shoes that can be tasteful, and trendy, in addition to being pleasant to wear. There can be lots of times where do you find yourself going back-and-forth on a tradeshow floor, or walking around a huge conference center trying to find your next break out room. Protect your feet, make them comfy.
One of the first things you should make sure to pack is your business cards. Have a supply ample enough not only to give to those who you are networking with, but also to participate in any tradeshow floor interactions or drawings. It can be embarrassing to not have a business card to offer in exchange when networking. Trust me, it has happened to me. Always come prepared.
Download the Conference App
If conference or tradeshow has a mobile app, download it. Having the conference app on your phone or iPad can go a long way for you, because everything you need is at your fingertips! Event apps offer a wide range of benefits. You can observe attendees, and possibly contact them within the app. Additionally, you might have speaker information, session slide presentations, and also a location to take notes. Some apps also have an activity stream in which you can safely share pictures and commentary about the event.
If you can get your hands on a power bank charger for your phone, it will go a long way. Being out all day at a conference can quickly drain your cell phone charge, especially if you were in a big conference center that might have patchy reception. Having a power bank with you allows you to easily charge your phone, without any disruption to your conference experience. If you don’t, you may find yourself looking all around for a place to plug-in and juice up, which can be very limiting.
Whether you are given an agenda brochure onsite, or have the agenda as a part of your conference app, make sure to have it close by. If there are areas of the agenda that you do not want to miss, make sure that it’s highlighted or save it to your personal agenda within your conference app so that you make sure to attend. If there are breakout rooms that you have to select, get to know what type of break out you will be attending so you can think ahead to the questions you might want to ask when you’re in that break out. Come prepared to your sessions, so that you can interact and get the most out of your experience.
Get to know who is coming to the conference, and create a networking list. First get to know in your network is coming to the conference you are attending. Then, take a look at the speaker list, and attendee list (if available via your conference), and highlight those that you would like to meet or discuss topics with. If you have a specific question that you would like to ask these people, then make sure to write it down, and have a plan of approach. If you have a very in-depth discussion that you would like to discuss with someone, perhaps reach out ahead of conference date and schedule some time during the conference to meet with them. This will make sure that you get designated uninterrupted time for your discussion.
Networking and be very overwhelming when you think of it. Meeting new people can go either way, and that is why it is great to have a networking plan before you go to your conference. After you make your network list, you should come up with items you would like to discuss, or questions that you would like to ask. Additionally, make sure to come up with your 30-second elevator pitch and have it handy, as you will have lots of opportunity to use it. You will meet many people that might ask you what you do, and the organization you work for. Having your pitch ready to go will help encourage those conversations along. Finally, have a few handy conversation starters available for you to use in a pinch, they will go a long way when meeting new people.
Trade show Appointment or Schedule
Trade shows can be operated in different ways, so make sure you read on how yours is operating. If there is a layout of the trade show floor available on the conference website, print it off and cross-reference it with the trade show vendors that will be there. If you have an opportunity to make appointments, make them and take care of business face-to-face if you can. You can use scheduled appointments to learn more about the vendor or discuss a potential piece of business. If you do not need to make appointments, make sure to mark those key vendors you would like to spend time with and spend time with them first before anyone else. Then take the time to go through some of your other picks to gather information, or research.
No matter where you travel, you still are away from home. That is why I like to make sure that I packed some of the things that make me feel more comfortable. If you have a favorite tea that you enjoy at home, a favorite snack, or if you need extra bottle water at night, make sure to bring those items along. If you can’t pack them, find a quick convenient store near your location and make time to grab few things when you arrive at your destination.
Notes are important! Have a plan for how you are going to take notes while you are at the conference. You can do this through your conference app, or apps like OneNote or Evernote. I like to make sure to title each area appropriately to the title of the session I attend. These applications can allow you to type as many notes as you want and add highlights and bullets if necessary. Don’t forget, as an act of self-reflection, try to note at least one action item from every session that you attend. This way you will easily come up with some action items for you to take when you return home from the conference.
These are the top 10 things I like to bring to conferences, do you have any to share?