5 Tips to Navigate a Conference Successfully

Back to school also means the kick-off of conference season. Whether you will be attending your first or your tenth, here are five tips I’ve picked up through the years, which I hope will help ensure that you get the most from your conference attendance.

Review the program. I’m old school and take a highlighter to the conference book after I check-in. I highlight the workshops I would like to attend. I review the presenter bios to see if there are individuals with whom I would like to connect. I also look for opportunities in the conference schedule for down time or time to connect with other attendees. Most conferences publish much of the details on their website so you can do some prep work from your office.

20170307_084141Bring the right tools. If you are old school, bring a fresh notebook, some pens (in case one runs out of ink) and a highlighter to mark key take-aways. I also bring an envelope or pouch, which I find handy for storing receipts, business cards and other relevant conference materials.

If you are all digital, be sure you bring the right power cords. If you are a heavy note taker, your device might run out of juice during the day so be prepared to find an outlet for charging or bring a back-up power supply. I also bring a mini multi-prong adapter for the room. I can plug in two devices and two USB cables. That way I can keep my mobile, Fitbit and laptop charged and not scramble for plugs.

Leverage social media. If there is a conference hashtag, follow the tweets to learn what others think about the speakers and topics. If a speaker mentions a resource, someone likely will tweet the resource and how to find it, which is always helpful. You can share your take-aways on Twitter or LinkedIn. You can also acknowledge great speakers, conference staff and hotel staff.

Take a nap. Conferences can be exhausting. Not to mention that most of us also are keeping up with our offices. Given that, sometimes it’s worth it to skip one session or a networking event to take a siesta. The downtime is the perfect way to recharge.

Network successfully. I am not talking about walking around and collecting business cards. I am talking about introducing yourself to a few people, and then asking them questions about what they do. If you make a connection, continue the conversation and find out if there is a way you might assist them. Sometimes, it’s as simple as sending them a link for a resource. Be sure to follow up.

6 Tips to Make Traveling a Breeze

I’ll soon be headed to the NFPW conference. I always look forward to it. This year, I’m also one of the speakers so I have a few extra items to bring. Because I travel frequently (now mainly for recreation), I am often asked about packing. When I was traveling a lot for work and pleasure, I developed a few shortcuts that I continue to use.

Luggage

With a bit of effort, you can travel with ease. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

The most important thing is to have a list. You can search Google and you’ll get 820M results! One list that I like is Dorie Clark’s business travel checklist, which is here.

I’ve refined my list further and have some shortcuts. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. I’ve put an umbrella in each piece of luggage that I own. That way I never have to wonder if I have packed it. And you know you have umbrellas all over the house. Instead of having them collecting dust in a closet, put them to good use in your luggage.
  2. I have two sets of chargers for every device. I keep one set in a to-go back (cosmetic bags that you get for free when you buy makeup are great for this purpose). When I grab that bag for a trip, I know that all of my chargers are in one place. I also keep a remote clicker (and batteries) for presentations in the bag and an extra thumb drive.
  3. I have one list of household chores that I need to do before I depart. That includes leaving the check for the pet sitter and taking out the trash. At one time, it included leaving the key for the pet sitter. Unfortunately, once, I didn’t follow my list and I failed to leave the key. Imagine my panic knowing I would be gone for a week. I overnighted the key to my sitter and asked her to keep it. One less thing to worry about.
  4. Minimize what you take. I almost always travel with only a carry-on bag. You have to be willing to forgo multiple pairs of shoes and be willing to accessorize. Wear the same top but with a different scarf and no one will know the difference.
  5. While I love my technology, I’ve found it good to have a folder with printed copies of my airline, hotel and car reservations. I also always carry a hard copy of my talking points for a presentation.
  6. Speaking of technology, I have one screen on my phone where all of my travel apps are located. I like having keyless entry at a hotel, and I like to check-in for my airline reservation to avoid getting bumped.