A 10 Point Survival Guide for Tech ConferencesNick Throlson
CES is just around the corner, and SXSW 2013 is due not long after that, as well as Affiliate Summit West so now is a good time to start planning next year’s conferences. Here are a few tips to help you stay fit and healthy, have a good time, and get your money’s worth out of the tech conferences you attend.
1. Pack Practically
Try to keep the amount of stuff you take with you on conference trips to a minimum. If you can avoid checking bags for
conferences that require flying to get to, then that will save you a lot of time.
Try to limit your packing to the gadgets you actually need. Do you really need to take your laptop or will a tablet PC do the job?
Will you actually use your video camera? Is a Dictaphone necessary or can you record conference sessions on your mobile? The less you have to carry, the better.
2. Dress for a Long Day on Your Feet
Looking smart is important, but you don’t have to sacrifice comfort. At most conferences, you would look out of place if you dressed like you were heading to a wedding. A smart pair of trousers, a clean shirt, and a pair of dark coloured, smart but comfortable shoes is all you really need.
Be sure to break in the shoes you take well before the conference – especially for events such as CES, which have several halls full of exhibits to explore.
3. Take Hi and Low Tech Equipment
Even though you’re going to a tech conference, you will inevitably end up needing to use an old fashioned pen for something. That something may be filling out entry forms for a competition, taking notes when your tablet PC’s battery lets you down, or scrawling a reminder on the back of a business card.
4. Use the Networking Opportunities
While it’s tempting to fill your entire day with conference sessions, that’s probably not the best use of your time. It is a good idea to go to the keynotes, and the conference sessions that are especially interesting to you, so that you can ask questions and meet the speaker. If a session doesn’t particularly appeal to you, don’t go just to fill up the day.There’s a good chance that the slides for the session will be available online, so leave that session and spend that time exploring the booths or meeting people.
5. Take Breaks
Build in some time in your schedule to have a drink, eat, visit the bathroom, or just chill out and read through the conference booklet. Remember that a lot of conference sessions over-run, people are late for meetings, and trade shows are generally chaotic. If you try to fill your day with back to back sessions, meetings and appointments, things will go wrong.
6. Look after Your Health
The post-conference flu is not something you want to come down with. One look at any tech conference hashtag will tell you how prevalent colds, flus and stomach bugs are. Some basic precautions such as eating healthy, taking a multi-vitamin, and washing your hands frequently will help to stave off bugs. Carrying some painkillers in your conference bag will make you popular
on the last day, too!
7. Do Your Homework
Before the conference, make a list of sessions you want to go to, people you want to meet, and stands you want to visit. On the opening morning of the conference, arrive early and spend a few minutes checking the calendar for schedule changes sothat you can finalize your plans for the rest of the week.
8. Charge Your Mobile
If you plan on Tweeting from the conference, charge your mobile in your hotel room every night, and bring the charger with you so that you can top-up from power outlets at the venue. You may want to consider bringing a spare battery or a portable charger just in case. Even if your phone lasts for several days during normal use at home, there’s a good chance the extra use it will get at the conference will drain the battery.
9. Book Early
If you know what conferences you want to go to next year, book the flights and hotels well in advance. If you leave booking until the last minute, you could end up having to stay well out of town, and you’ll pay far more for your flights. Booking early will let you take advantage of cheaper prices, and a far better selection of hotels.
When you get home, sort through the stack of business cards that you collected, and send emails to everyone that you spoke to. If you use LinkedIN or any similar services, send them a connection invitation. It’s always a good idea to stay in touch with contacts that you make through networking at conferences. Even a casual connection can be valuable later in your career.
About the author:
Crispin Jones writes for Name Badges international – experts in staff name badges and corporate name badges.