Conferences have become a great way to meet and mingle with a group of people who have similar interests and pursuits. If you have a business, they are also a great way to let those people know of the benefits of your products or services. Twitter is frequently abuzz with conference-goers extolling the virtues of whatever conference is happening at that time. Recently, among the people I follow on Twitter, the Altitude Design Summit was much discussed. In just a couple of weekends, Blissdom will be the conference that everyone is talking about. A couple of weekends after that will be my first conference as an attendee instead of an exhibitor: Mom 2.0 Summit! I am too excited. Hence, this post is as much (or more) for me as for anyone else who might be attending or even thinking of attending a conference. These are not the only ones, there are lots more coming: Evo Conference for Moms in social media from June 24-26, BlogHer for primarily women business owners and bloggers from August 5-7, The Relevant Conference for Christian bloggers from October 21-24, and more.
Here are the steps you should take to begin planning for an upcoming conference.
Research the details of a conference you might be interested in. Check to be sure the dates are available on your calendar, that the location is suitable, and that the price of the conference is within your budget.
Buy your ticket early. Many conferences have an early bird price. You wouldn’t want the conference to fill up before you purchase your tickets.
Begin to price airfare if you are flying. Flight prices fluctuate. The more you pay attention, the better chance you’ll have to get a good price.
Consider where you’ll stay. Many conferences are held in a hotel, and give special price breaks to conference attendees. Reserve your room or make arrangements to stay with a friend as soon as you are able.
Plan how you’ll get from the airport to the place you are staying. Being in a new town can make transportation a little overwhelming. Check out your options: shuttle van, taxi, bus, renal car, friend. Then make arrangements well before your trip.
Create a thorough packing list. Include standard items such as cell phone and charger, laptop, business cards, notebook and a pen, and a swimsuit if your hotel has a pool.
Decide on what to wear. Check your closets for appropriate dress. You may want to make a pre-conference shopping trip or borrow some clothing from a fashionable friend. Every conference is a bit different. Decide if it is more business or more casual. Will it be warm or cold where you are going?
Check into wi-fi at the place you are staying. The hotel may have free wireless internet in the rooms and in the conference area. However, many hotels charge quite a bit for internet per day. If necessary, reserve a data card from a respectable dealer and have it shipped to your home just before the conference. I have used RovAir twice and it has been a smooth and easy process.
Check your supply of business cards. Maybe they are in need of updating or replenishing. Be sure you have many on hand as you arrive to the conference and throughout.
Organize sponsors. Conferences can be pretty costly after the price of the conference ticket, air travel, and hotel stay. Many small businesses are willing to help you get to conference if you you are willing to do some promoting for them while you are there.
Prepare to soak it all in. A conference is like one big educational party! You will meet people that you have only heard about or seen through social media. Enjoy and make the most of the opportunity.
If you are thinking of attending a conference or are already planning to attend, help yourself to ListPlanIt‘s new Conference ePlanner. The perfect tool for preparing for an upcoming conference.