These are my Top FIVE Tips for Making the Most of Your National Conference This Summer. Over the years, I have attended more than a dozen National Conferences or Leadership Conferences with my company. As with all things you have to take the good with the bad. Here are some things I have learned over the years about getting the most out of the experience.
Be sure to pack your bag with essentials including attire. Keep in mind the weather for your destination. Traveling anywhere in the summertime is probably going to be hot, but that doesn’t mean short shorts and spaghetti strap tank tops. You are a business owner and even if you are surrounded by people who all do the same thing you do, you are representing your company while you are there. Remember that convention centers and large hotels require a lot of walking so maybe it goes without saying but: Pack comfortable shoes.
Airline baggage fees have skyrocketed (see what I did there?) and you don’t want your toiletries to be confiscated by the TSA. Read the rules before choosing your bag. Go with a carry-on for important essentials: change of clothes, medications, etc. And, if at all possible, pack only one bag. If you’re not travelling by air, bringing your own pillow might be easier. However, don’t pack the whole “kit and kaboodle” just because you can. And please remember to check every nook and cranny before you leave your hotel room. Personal experience! Things you may leave behind don’t always make it to the lost and found.
Take Conference Notes
If you are anything like me, traveling to conference puts you in a whole other state of mind. You are not going to remember everything every speaker said. Whether you use an electronic device or plain old pen and paper; Take Notes. You have likely spent a good amount of (tax deductible) money on travel and hotel, meals and perhaps a registration fee. Make the investment of time and money pay off in your business by bringing home the “good stuff” (real business advice that is brand specific and direct from your company or the best in your field). Reviewing your notes shortly after returning home (after the high is over and you are no longer sleep deprived) is the best way to make the whole trip worth it.
As much as you can, eat well and get good sleep. This isn’t always easy. Planning ahead for times when good food is not available by packing a box of protein bars or whatever keeps you going is smart. Who will you be rooming with? I always pack extra Breathe Right strips and ear plugs for everyone. Because, let’s face it those things will keep snoring from making enemies out of roommates. Plan ahead by having a discussion with anyone you might be rooming with about who is going to get up at what time. I like to sleep in and get ready quickly. That’s not a good fit with a roommate who was more of a morning person who liked to sing show tunes while she got ready for 2 hours. A quick conversation beforehand might have helped her be more considerate and helped me be more prepared.
Bring your business cards. Some of the best friends I have in my company are people I met while at conferences. But it’s hard to stay in touch or find that person after you return home without contact info. How do you meet these new people? Talk to everyone! You may be sitting next to someone who is at a conference for the first time or it could be one of the Top Sellers in your company. What might you learn or be able to share? If striking up a conversation with someone you have never met gives you palpitations and makes you break out in a cold sweat, pretend. They don’t know you either, so just pretend you’re one of those outgoing people and start the conversation. Secret success tip: bring mints or bite size chocolates (you know the ones wrapped with a little bit of wisdom like a fortune cookie?) offer them to everyone you sit next to – great ice breaker and way to “meet” new friends.
No Drama Zone
Save the Drama for your Mama girl! When some people get away from their familiar surroundings, their husband and their kids, the freedom can get a little intoxicating. Some others, overwhelmed by crowds and lack of sleep can begin to have mini-meltdowns. Keep a watchful eye on what is going on and if the drama begins to flare, move on. Nothing can bring your “conference high” crashing down around your ears faster than someone getting hysterical in your face because they can’t handle a) how much they drank; b) the crisis back home they can’t fix but their husband had to call and tell them about it anyway or c) the fact that the “friend” they are rooming with turned out to be not as much of a friend as someone thought. All true stories that happened in my face while at a conference. It’s okay to walk away. Sometimes you just have to say “Bye, Felicia.”
Have fun at conference, get what you went there for and hopefully your investment in yourself and your business will show up in an improvement in your sales, bookings and recruiting. Make the most of it!
Have a great conference,