Over the decades (yes, I am that old – lol), it’s been a privilege to both attend and speak at various conferences, conventions and workshops as well as being the event planner. Along the way, useful information has been gleaned, too much for one blog post, but take what you can use and forget the rest.
If you’re attending Ruth Soukup‘s Elite Blog Academy Activate 2018, give yourself a pat on the back for taking your blog business seriously! As best you can, tweak your blog or website before leaving home as it represents you in absentia. You’ll hand out business cards like candy on October 31st so making your blog/website look good, if not great, is a priority.
The best way to be prepared is to plan ahead, always keeping a good and flexible attitude. Murphy’s Law doesn’t take a holiday and, let’s face it, if it can go wrong, somehow, someway it usually will go wrong. That’s okay because as my favorite philosopher Heraclitus of old said, “It is what it is“.
Throughout the year I drink elderberry juice concentrate mixed in glasses of water to boost my immune system thus preventing viral infections or alleviating symptoms. Sambucol is an elderberry syrup developed by a female Israeli scientist and is what I use when I can’t find the elderberry juice concentrate. (There are recipes to make your own but I’ve not tried that yet.) Take hand wipes and use them generously, beginning with those plastic bins at the TSA station. Studies show those bins have more viruses than a bathroom!
Before, during and after the conference, make sure you get enough sleep and healthful food. I take high protein snacks: nuts, protein bars, dark chocolate to tide me between meals or as meals. If I’m exhausted, I’ll find a quiet place (my room or restaurant corner or sofa) and recharge my batteries. I’d rather miss thirty minutes or an hour than work myself into illness and miss everything.
Earlier this year, I attended She Speaks Conference and was continually amused at the enormous quantities of suitcases brought in by other attendees. My travel motto is, “Never take more than I can run with” and, as I’ve aged, the suitcase gets lighter and lighter although when traveling by car, I still tend to over pack. Before packing and walking out the door, there are other things that make the journey less stressful and the return home easier and more pleasant.
You’ve made travel arrangements…vehicle has been checked over (gas, tires, oil, windshield wipers, etc.) or plane tickets purchased, airport transfer arranged, hotel reserved and copies made (either hard copies or with your phone), business cards printed with head shot photo (but, if you’ve got business cards now without your photo…use them!) so now…
Remove everything in your wallet not needed for this trip. Generally, that’s everything except photo identification, credit card or two, insurance and/or Medicare cards and money (twenty $1 bills for tips). I take my ATM card but without plans to use it as it’s easier and less expensive to use credit cards if they’re paid off every month. Make hard copies (both sides) or photo (both sides) with phone and either keep in separate, safe place or e-mail to yourself.
I’ve a beautiful leather briefcase no longer used because it’s a thief magnet and weighs too much but has great sentimental value so I keep it. Instead, I’ve begun carrying a one strap back pack that’s black, lightweight and handles all the business paraphernalia (cards, copies, pens, notebook) as well as a laptop, necessary electrical cords, paperback and a small purse that’s put into use once I board my final flight. A dedicated business card holder or a small cosmetic bag contains extra cards; I’d rather bring a few home than run out.
What works for me – a pre-printed list that’s checked as I pack. My clothes include a basic, all in black, skirt, underclothes, tees/blouse’s with scarves to alleviate the black. A crushable black knit jacket helps with too cold planes or conference rooms. Jewelry is the same for the entire conference: wooden watch (conversation starter as I’m an introvert and need helpful aids…smile), turquoise bracelet and necklace with silver/turquoise earrings. To supplement the black skirt, one tee/blouse for each conference day plus a black dress. Turquoise or red Ariat boots are the only shoes other than slippers that wear next to nothing and do double duty as pool shoes as I detest walking barefoot in public places. Some women like to wear “killer heels” but I’m over high heels (heck, I can fall off my feet! haha) so “killer boots” are my “thing”. Everyone has something (clothes, foot wear, jewelry, cosmetics) that gives them a sly smile making them feel confident or strong or self-assured. Boots do it for me because when I’m on the tractor or working with my horses weighing one or two thousand pounds, I’m in boots. (I take an empty water bottle and, once through flight boarding, begin hydrating.)
In other words…dress the part. You don’t have to buy a new wardrobe but leave the clothes behind that say, “I’m a mom or dad” (nothing wrong with being a mom or dad but unless you brought your child, you’re YOU for this conference. To get your money’s worth, you need to focus on YOU…your needs, wants, making contacts, etc. What would you wear for church service or for a Friday night dinner/movie date with a new person? That’s what you’ll wear for the conference and, by the way, go light on the perfume or after shave lotion. There are a lot of people with allergies that are triggered by heavy scents; be considerate.
When you’ve received final materials for the conference peruse the speakers, workshops and one on one time. Match your field with someone who most closely resembles what you’re doing or with someone who can assist in taking you to the next level. If you’re a Mom or Dad blogger, take a look at all speakers who are Mom or Dad bloggers and choose where the two of you are similar. Or, if you’re a fashion or food blogger, match, as best you can, with those in similar fields.
Make a note of people, workshops, 1:1, etc. you specifically want to meet and prepare your questions. What information do you want to receive from them? What can they say or do that will assist you/your blog/your business? When they’re speaking, listen for the links between their subject and their talk that gives you an AHA! moment. What works for them and how does it work? How can you use that same information to work for you?
Prepare your branding statement or elevator pitch and keep it short. Be able to state your name, blog name, tag line and your area of expertise. Keep in mind the answers to Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?
Talk to people…when you’re meeting other conference attendees your opening questions might include: Is this your first time at this conference? If they attended last year ask, “What was your best takeaway?” Other ice breakers: “What’s your number one accomplishment this year?” “What’s your number one goal for this time next year?” “What’s your area of expertise?” “Where do you receive the most exposure or results?”
If you take photos or videos of other people (with or without yourself), ask for their biz cards and make a quick note on what they’re wearing. When you return home, it’s easier to identify them so you can link with them on your blog or send a quick note. You could also put videos on your blog, YouTube or other sites thus using social media to gain exposure for yourself and others.
Keep all collected business cards in one place. It’s too easy to toss a card in a pocket, back pack, purse, etc. and come across them much later but if you go with a specific place to put them, you’ll have them all at hand when you get home.
Speaking of home…have a plan for when you return home. When and how will you connect with folks you’ve met? If a speaker was simply incredible, send a hand written thank you note (and include your business card) or if someone did an extreme kindness to you, send them a note. It almost goes without saying a hand written note is jaw dropping; be the one who causes the dropped jaw!
If you’re in process of making a product to market and if you’ve the time, consider taking a media kit to promote your product, your blog and you.
Lastly, Thistle Cove Farm is being updated to https://www.thistlecove.farm. So many of you have been friends since the beginning, May 2005 (yes, I’ve been blogging more than thirteen years!) and along the way. All along, and not just when Dave died, you’ve tucked me in prayer, encouraged me, sent notes of kindness, showered me with grace and mere words cannot express my gratitude. Please know your name is in my prayer journal and on my prayer list; it’s a privilege to remember you when I go before Abba God. Thank you.