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!