What to Bring and What to Do

by Paul Lai

For some extra advice, I asked some of my friends who have gone to national conferences what attendees should bring and what they should do while at the conference. Here are their suggestions:

What to bring

  • Business cards. If you don’t have any yet, make some quick ones on a printer with card stock!
  • Bring clothes that you can layer. Not only is Chicago summer weather fickle, but you will have to deal with variable conference center and hotel air conditioning systems.
  • Granola bars or other portable snacks. You will be booked solid (if you are doing things right) and may forget a meal here or there.
  • An empty water bottle. Stay hydrated!
  • Professional looking pen. (“No bics, man,” says my friend.)
  • Camera (sound settings off if possible for less obtrusive picture-taking).
  • Chargers for your phone, camera, tablet, computer, and other gadgets.
  • Comfortable shoes.
  • Blister creme.

What to do

  • Make sure to schedule time to network (at more formal events as well as more informally over meals and drinks). Meeting people is as important as attending sessions.
  • If you know that you need time for yourself, make sure to also schedule some downtime away from people, especially if you have roommates.
  • Be ready to pick up swag (free stuff! books! pens! bags! random thing!) at the exhibits.
  • If someone invites you to an event or meal, go! Make lots of friends.

Thanks to Roger, Sarah, Bryan, Julia, and Stephanie for these suggestions!