We hate to say it, but summer is coming to an end. Fear not though, because something even more exciting is on the horizon: conference and tradeshow season! It's time to get back out there and meet potential vendors, clients and who knows, maybe you'll return with some new best friends 👯♀️
No matter how many of these events you’ve attended, it’s important to keep your skills sharp so you can achieve your personal and professional goals. And who knows, maybe you’ve forgotten to pack something crucial – our list has you covered! Let’s get started 💪
First things first: what the heck do I even pack?
Here’s a teaser of some of the essential items you’ll need as you head off into the sunset – ahem, we mean, off to your event!
💙 Amilia tip: given the increase in travel lately across the globe, we recommend only using a carry-on bag if flying!
- Pens and a notebook
- Extra chargers
- Hand sanitizer
- A light sweater
- Comfortable shoes
✨ Don’t forget to check out the full list here! ✨
Without further ado, here are our tips to get the most out of your conference!
1) Networking, networking, networking
Networking is a fact of life in pretty much every industry. Whether you’re comfortable with talking to strangers or not, you deserve to reap the benefits! We could write an entire post filled with networking tips, but for now here’s what you need to know before your next conference:
- Connect to folks on social media pre-event: Before you leave, don’t be afraid to use the event hashtag (ex. #NRPAConference2022) to see who else is going and start building that relationship before you meet in person! 💙 Amilia tip: As a professional networking site, LinkedIn is the best place for this.
- Prep some simple conversation starters: It may seem weird to prepare this much for a quick chat, but trust us, it will just be one less thing you have to worry about at the event! Here are a couple of examples: “Hi, I’m [your name]! Have you been to [insert conference name] before?” “What sessions are you thinking of attending? I thought [name of speaker] seemed interesting.”
- Follow up at or after the conference: This could be as simple as a quick note saying it was nice to meet someone, or as detailed as a request for a meeting to develop your partnership. You can use e-mail or LinkedIn for this. Either way, it’s important to follow up to foster a lasting relationship!
2) Define YOUR conference goals
Are you looking to meet a lot of people? Do you have a set number of new clients you want to sign? Or partnership relationships you want to develop? No matter what your reason is for being there, you will need to make decisions about the way you approach the event and which sessions you choose to attend. That’s why it’s important to take the time to think about your reason for attending before you leave!
3) Don’t forget collateral to distribute
Some examples of collateral you could carry with you or keep at your booth:
- Business cards
- Goodie bags
4) Spend a good amount of time consulting the agenda and map
Every minute counts when you’re at a conference, and you don’t want to be wasting time choosing which sessions to attend when you could be gathering valuable knowledge to take back to your team! If you’ve already tackled our second tip, it shouldn’t take long to pinpoint which sessions will be most useful to you. 💙 Amilia tip: Prioritize your schedule by making a list of which sessions you would be okay with missing, and which are must-see.
When it comes to the map, you’d be surprised at how many people skip this! It’ll be way easier to relax and focus on learning and meeting people when you’re not worrying about where the closest bathroom is.
5) Take lots of pictures and notes!
During the conference, you’ll certainly be overwhelmed by all the new people you’re meeting and information you’re learning. That’s why we suggest taking time to snap some quick pictures or selfies for you to look back on. They also make for super easy social media content that we can almost guarantee will drive engagement (after all, people love seeing real people on their feeds).
Speaking of conferences being a blur, you’ll want to take detailed notes because we all know no one can remember everything someone says. Don't worry about writing down direct quotes; just make sure you get the overall themes so you can come back to them and remember what they actually mean!
Now...let’s hear from some Amilians! 💬
Attending tradeshows is one of the best parts about working at Amilia; the energy we get from meeting our community in person (and the value it brings) is unmatched! So of course, we couldn’t let this guide end without sharing insights from our travel pros here at Amilia.
“Dress for comfort, not sloppy!” - Jamie, Founder of 110%
“Leave room in your suitcase for fantastic souvenirs!” - Farrell, Consultant with 110% and Amilia
“Prepare a list of people and vendors you would like to meet, along with their contact information and/or booth numbers.” - Mel, Marketing
“Most tradeshows offer an app where you can potentially connect with attendees/share posts. Make sure to check out its features before the tradeshow starts!” - Sid Ali, Sales
“If you are in a session and realize it isn’t what you thought, its ok to leave and go to a different session. This is your time and your conference experience.” - Farrell, Consultant with 110% and Amilia
“Visit booths for products you don’t know about. It is a great way to learn all things parks and recreation.” - Jamie, Founder of 110%
“Stay curious! Make your conversations about them and not about you.” - Shai, Chief Revenue Officer (read more of Shai’s tips here!)
“Bring a portable battery for your devices.” - Will, Sales
There you have it: your ultimate tradeshow guide! After many years of attending conferences, we’re chock-full of more tips. Should we write part two of this blog? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #AmiliaInAction