Over the years, I've been to lots of conferences. I'm getting ready to attend BlogHer in San Jose in just a few weeks. Here are some tips I've learned for making your conference attendance an easy and successful one. You can read about my first experience here.
1. Load up on business cards
You will meet lots of people and will likely want to give them your card. You’ll probably want to bring a couple of hundred for a smaller conference and a few hundred for a larger one. The biggest key to swapping cards: remember to bring them with you! I've gone to meetings and conferences and forgot to bring those gems with me.
Make sure you include your pertinent contact information such as email, blog url, and social media account handles. For blogging conferences, it's also helpful to include a headshot on the card as people will likely recognize you by your avatar.
2. Bring your iPad or tablet
Leave the laptop at home, or at the very least, in your hotel room. It’s heavier and bulkier than an iPad or tablet, and you’re going to be carrying it around with you all day. It will get heavy. The tablet will also have a better battery life. My iPad can go for hours of use and not need a charge. Your iPad or Tablet is also quicker to turn on/boot up than your laptop.
3. Buy an external keyboard
I can type extremely fast on my iPad or iPhone. So quickly, in fact, that people often comment on it. However, I bought an external keyboard for my iPad because sometimes my hands get cramped from typing on the on-screen keyboard. It’s money well spent. It’s light, easy to use, and holds a charge for many days. It’s pretty much all I use now to take notes at a conference.
4. Check out a few productivity apps
Productivity apps are a must if you plan to use your iPad or tablet. Evernote is my all-time favorite productivity app. It’s super intuitive. It syncs with my phone an online account for access anywhere I am. Evernote makes it easy and quick to create new notes and to add content to existing ones.
5. Get an external battery pack for your phone
You will likely be on your phone all day Tweeting, Instagraming, and note taking. And external battery pack will be a life saver when your battery starts to die part way through the day. I never leave home with out one (or two).
6. Carry a small water bottle
You will be thirsty and you won’t always be by a water fountain or at a place where water is continually provided free of charge. You’ll need to stay hydrated during your fast-paced and fun event. A small leak-proof water bottle is a must.
7. Wear comfy shoes
I don’t really need to elaborate on this. Conference centers are expansive, wherever they may be. You’ll be inclined to want to wear the most faboosh shoes you can, but most of those amazing shoes are not comfortable for walking miles in. At some conference centers, you will easily walk miles throughout the course of the day.
8. Use a notepad and pen
Sometimes old school is where it’s at. Technology is great, but sometimes you just need to jot something down and you can't do it if you aren't prepared.
9. Pack an extra suitcase
The amount of swag you will get varies from conference to conference, but at some, you go home with a lot. Often an extra suitcase can be less expensive than paying to ship, assuming that is an option (it isn't always).Hopefully these tips will be helpful to newbies and experienced conference goers alike. Do you have additional tips or different experiences? I’d love for you to share.