It’s conference season for many of us. Attending conferences really is much more than just making sure you have the flight booked, baggage packed and business cards in hands.
In my former working life, I worked as tour support in the music industry. My life was really one flight to the next. I became well versed in everything from booking flights, packing a week worth of clothes in a carry-on (with matching heels) and being ready for several days of twelve hours on my feet adventures from summits, to concerts to festivals to conferences. When I moved over to the tech reporter world, my travel slowed down a bit, but my conference schedule still had me traveling from conference to conference from January to usually about May.
No matter what industry you’re in, or work you’re doing, there are some tips that will have you ready to begin your own so-called conference life.
- A multi-pocket well-sized purse. Something that can hold everything you need for the day. Having one bag to carry is a life saver. You don’t want to be carrying a bunch of small bags and backpacks area awkward in crowded spaces.
- Before you travel, download the conference map. Know where you’re going.
- Look at the map surrounding your hotel and from where you’re staying to where the conference is. Knowing your surroundings is important and saves you from losing time wandering.
- Battery packs! I can’t say more how much two fully charged Mophie battery packs have saved my day. I didn’t have to endlessly search for a plug and then be stuck sitting at an outlet for an hour to charge my smartphone and tablet. I carry two Mophie Powerstation 4000mAh packs in my purse with small USB to phone cords.
- Hotspots will save you the headache of bad conference center wifi. Plus it’s far more secure. The last thing you need is your computer getting hacked while sitting in a seminar about internet security. I suggest and use the Verizon Wireless Jetpack MiFi. Best thing of all, it also acts as a third charger, should I run into a very long tech-heavy day.
- Stylish flats. Yes, heels are the trend but between those “need to be seen” moments like when you’re sitting through a panel, slip on the flats to give your feet the needed rest they need. Plus, the large tote style purse will carry them just nicely for a quick slip on. Myself, I’ve learned to wear flats all day and save the heels for after five. Your feet will thank you.
- Leave the laptop back at your hotel. There is no reason anymore to lug around a 3-6 pound laptop anymore. Go hybrid! I suggest the Surface Pro 4 from Microsoft. No worries about not being able to complete a work task on it unlike an iPad with has limited function. It’s light weight and does everything a laptop can. plus it slips nicely into the tote sized purse.
- Gadget=pack them! My three devices I travel with; Surface Pro 3, iPad mini, and my HTC One M9. I can run a company and shine in a conference with these three, all are travel-size and fully functional devices. Plus the Mohpie battery packs keep them all charged for the day while the Mifi keeps them all connected.
- Selfie stick. Yes, it sounds silly but it is for more than pics of yourself. Think of it as a mono pod too. Use it has a stabilizer when doing live streaming or taken photos. Then remember to get a lot of active group shots to show off the trip. I highly suggest one without a remote but instead as a Bluetooth button. You don’t need another thing to have in your hands. My favorite is the iPlanet Bluetooth Selfie Stick.
- Save the drinking. Make a one or two drink limit for your evening. The influencers you need to connect with tend to rise early…and without hangovers. They are the most productive in the mornings and you should be too!
- Snacks ready. Carry energy inducing snacks in your bag for throughout the day (especially late afternoons) to keep your energy up. Also, carry a bottle of water in your bag. It always comes in handy. Hail Merry is my favorite brand for snacks. I carry five at all times when traveling. They are great for afternoon energy crashes, airport waiting periods and those “oops I forgot to eat breakfast”, conference mornings.
- Keep a few simple accessories ready for those times you may go right from the conference to a cocktail hour or dinner. Going from suit jacket to cardigan and change jewelry. Touch up makeup, maybe add a bit more color to eyes with a quick eyeshadow touchup.
- Keep your business cards handy at all times like in a pocket of your suit jacket or from the pocket of a purse. You should never have to the take time to dig for them. Also, make sure you get contact information from those you meet.
No matter what conference you’re attending, these tips will hold true. If you have any other tips, please add them in comments.