Written by Jennifer Doré Dallas, from www.moimessouliers.org
Going to a conference or summit can be stressful. What will I say? Will I meet people? What should I bring? Those are only some of the questions we ask ourselves beforehand. Having been to many events, I have prepared a mini-guide on how to make the most of your WITS in Boston!
Why are you at WITS?
What is WITS to you? Are you a blogger, a traveler, a product representative? What are you going there to achieve? It’s important to know what you want to get out of the conference to be able to maximize your experience. If it’s strictly business, then you’ll be having different conversations than if you’re there for the simple fun of meeting other people that are passionate about travel.
Who are you?
I used to hate when people told me to prepare an elevator pitch (a short description of who you are, what you do and what the focus of your blog is), but they were right. Being able to describe yourself quickly and efficiently will make such a difference when meeting new people and you won’t be left babbling, unsure of yourself. Think about the value you bring, what your purpose and uniqueness are and what makes you stand out.
Did you pack the essentials?
A girl’s best friend at a conference is her day bag full of networking essentials:
Be mindful about what you wear AND be nice to your feet
First of all, make sure you have comfortable shoes (even for the parties) as you’ll be on your feet a lot and don’t want discomfort to ruin your day. Same goes for your clothes. That little dress might not be the perfect choice for a day of workshops. Business casual is the way to go. Be weather conscious as well, as the AC or the heat might dampen the mood. A scarf goes a long way!
Be ready to interact
Bring enough business cards, as you’ll be giving them out to virtually everyone you meet. Exchanging that little piece of paper is much easier than asking people to spell out their emails. If you’re bad with names or faces, jot some memorable info down about the person in front of you on the business card they handed you.
My favourite way to handle business cards is to put them in my name-tag pouch. When I collect some, I put them in the back. This way, they are all in the same place and are not lost in my bag. Putting yours in the front will also give people a visual of your blog which they might recognize.
Bring a notebook and a pen and write A LOT. If you’re like me, your brain will be in sensory overload so you won’t remember that great website so-and-so talked about or the great tips you heard during a session. WRITE! Some people like having their iPad or laptop, but I find it’s a hassle, as there aren’t always enough plugs or tables, etc.
Without overloading your day bag, make sure you think ahead. You may not be able to go back to your room as planned, so think camera, phone charger, umbrella, water bottle, snacks, scarf, business cards, etc. Make sure it’s big enough to fit all the brochures (and maybe some swag!) you’ll collect during the day, but don’t go overboard, as you’ll carry it around a lot.
Did you do your homework?
There is no need for hours and hours of preparation, but doing a little bit of research will help you get the most out of your WITS:
- Sleep at the conference venue or close to it. You’ll have little time for transportation if you want to get as much sleep as you can before the early start.
- Check the workshop schedule and highlight the sessions you would like to attend to make sure you don’t miss out.
- Use social media to learn about who will be there and make a list of people you’d like to interact with.
- Jot down all addresses of places you will need to go to (venue, parties, hotel, etc.) as Wi-Fi or a phone signal can sometimes disappoint.
- Take notes about questions you’d like to ask in specific sessions.
- Read up on what you want to see in Boston and plan around the conference. Give yourself some flexibility though, as you’ll meet people and be invited to unforeseen activities.
- Be sure to know the conference hashtags and social media accounts. It might even be a good idea to write down the speakers’ handles for quick reference.
The most important tip I could give you to make the most of your WITS is: be yourself and talk to people. We will all be there for the same reasons and travel unites us, so if you’re in doubt, ask someone about their last trip! I’m sure you’ll strike up a conversation in no time!