I am so excited. Like a kid looking forward to Christmas or my birthday, I’m going back to Haven in Atlanta.
You can read about Haven here. Last year was an overwhelming experience and the reason that I’m sitting here today, writing to you every week at Bluesky Kitchen. When I attended Haven last year, I didn’t know 10% of what I know today about blogging, Pinterest, Instagram, SEO, or photography. This year has been one of the most fun, but challenging and rewarding of my life (I’m not counting marriage or motherhood!) and there was never any doubt in my mind that I would be going back to Haven. Not just to learn more, but to reconnect with the wonderful women bloggers I met last year and meet new blogger friends. This community is truly one of the most generous I have ever been a part of.
Have you ever been to a work~related conference? A seminar? A networking event?
Years ago, as a Mary Kay Consultant, I attended their celebrated Seminar for several years. Later, as an account executive, I attended sales training seminars. The world was a bit different then: no cell phones, iPads, no PCs. Today’s conferences require more planning and preparation. This year I will be more prepared for Haven than I was in 2015. So if you are a first time Haven attendee or if you are ever going to a conference or seminar, here are my suggestions to make your experience more rewarding and less stressful.
10 Items to Pack in Your Bag for a Conference
1. Comfortable Shoes ~ you will be on your feet, walking either from your hotel to the conference, walking around the conference, seeking out your next seminar location, or just standing and visiting with others. I recommend flats with good support. They can still be cute. I bought these for our trip to Charleston and Savannah.They passed the waking and standing test with flying colors. Here is what I’ll be packing.
2. Medications ~ I know this is something that we do when we travel, but it’s just a reminder. I have horrible hay fever and I hate to be sneezing in the middle of someone’s presentation.
2. Business Cards ~ this is a must. No matter the size of the conference, you will be meeting new people that you want to connect with. You can’t remember all of them and they can’t remember you. Your business card allows fellow attendees to check out your website or company when they return home. New friends, new contacts, new opportunities. When I attended Haven last year, I only had my old business cards from my cooking school business. As soon as Bluesky Kitchen launched in mid~August (We’ll be celebrating that in a couple of weeks.), I ordered my business cards from MOO and I absolutely love them. They have the best paper, templates, and fastest delivery that I’ve found. Last week I ordered a new batch of cards with a few updates to reflect changes on the blog. I also highly recommend that you include your picture on your business cards. It helps people remember you better. You will also need business cards to give to vendors and for entering giveaways. This year I’m going to bring a zip~lock baggie for all the business cards I collect.
(I’m so excited that you can order YOUR business cards RIGHT NOW from MOO. Click on the banner below. If you order your business cards or other cool items (I also ordered some really cute stickers, I may received a commission, but you do not pay a penny more.)
3. Your iPhone and your iPad ~ Yes, I know we never leave home without them, but DO NOT FORGET THEM!! You will want to take pictures, add contacts, look up other people’s websites, Google someone. If you are a blogger, you may need to write, edit or schedule a post while you are at the conference.
4. Your device chargers ~ OMG, there’s nothing worse than being away from home and not be able to charge up your phone, iPad, or camera. I have a connector to upload my camera photos to my iPad. There are outlets everywhere. Be prepared.
5. A Notebook and Pens~ Although I use NOTES on my phone for many topics, I find that good old pen and paper are best for taking notes at a seminar. You’ll remember more and retain more information with handwritten notes. (Former English teacher speaking here.) I still refer to my notebook from Haven 2015 and I have my notebook for 2016 ready. I suggest putting your name, phone number, e~mail address inside just in case it gets left somewhere. You can also tape your business card inside the cover. Be sure to have at least a couple of pens. I hate trying to take notes with a pen that doesn’t write.
6. An Extra Suitcase or Large Carry~on Bag ~ many conferences give attendees “swag bags” full of goodies donated by sponsors. Haven had wonderful stuff last year; I had no idea this would be the case and I had to ship home a box of great stuff. You can leave the swag bag in your hotel room and go through the give~aways on breaks. It’s like Christmas. Having an extra carry~on bag to take extra goodies home will make your return trip easier.
7. A Light Sweater or Scarf ~ hotels conference rooms can be cold. Personally, I don’t function well when I’m cold so a light sweater that you can tuck in your purse will be a life~savor when the air~conditioner is blasting.
8. A LARGE Purse ~ besides all the usual stuff we carry in our purses (lipstick, wallet, lotion, checkbook), you’ll need space for your iPhone, your iPad, and your phone charger, notebook and business cards. Leave anything you absolutely don’t need (checkbook, extra credit cards, pictures of the kids, car keys) either at home or lock them in your room safe. I haven’t decided which of these two I’ll be bringing. Maybe both!
9. Your Schedule ~ Haven (and I think most conferences these days) allows you to study and schedule which seminars on which days you want to attend. I printed mine off before I left home and also saved it on my phone. It’s not written in stone and you can change it if you want, but I think it will make your conference more rewarding if you do some pre~conference studying. Focus on what YOU need, what speakers you think will help you right now.
10. A Smile! ~ You will be meeting hundreds of people each day: at meals, waiting for a conference to start, asking questions of a seminar presenter, vendors. I can’t tell you how much a smile and a hello will open the door to meeting fantastic people. Don’t be hesitant to speak first. I’m not shy and I’ve been in sales before so I know the importance of saying hello. If you don’t know what to say, just smile and introduce yourself (Hi, I’m Carol and I blog at Bluesky Kitchen.net.) as you hand the other person your business card. When they hand you their card, look at it, make note of the name of their blog. Ask where they are from, how long they have been blogging, what do they blog about, is this their first time to Haven (or the name of the conference), are they having fun, what seminars they have been to (see #9 above) that they really thought were beneficial, what seminar are they going next. Trust me, you’ll find plenty in common with the other attendees.
After you arrive, here are a few things I suggest:
- If you are going with a friend, split up to meet new people and attend different seminars. Step out of your comfort zone.
- Make time to visit all the sponsors and vendors. Engage them. You want them to remember you for future possibilities. This was something I didn’t know last year.
- If you want to go out to dinner, don’t wait for others to invite you. Invite them!
- Ask as many questions as you can of other bloggers, especially successful ones.
- Get a good night sleep. As much fun as conferences are, they are tiring. You are on a different schedule, your brain is on overload, and you are eating differently. It’s invigorating and exhausting at the same time. If you need to, find a quiet place, don’t get on your phone, and just chill for 10 minutes. You’ll feel so much better.
Whatever conferences you attend, I hope these suggestions for 10 Items to Pack in Your Bag for a Conference increase your enjoyment and your take~away.
If you are going to Haven, please introduce yourself. I can’t wait to meet you.
I’m happy to give a big SHOUT OUT to
THE ALFRESCO TABLESCAPE BLOG HOP STARTS TODAY!
I’m so excited to be a part of this adventure in designing fabulous table decor by 30 bloggers, including yours truly.
Look for me on Day 5, August 5th.