If you’re like me, you’re probably planning on attending at least one conference in the coming months.
Do you make a list of goals or people that you want to meet before you attend? Or do you attend with a free spirit attitude and let spontaneity rule?
Regardless of your conference mindset, here’s a quick checklist to help you plan and prepare for a successful event.
1. Setup your eCommunity conference profile and connect with others before you arrive.
Many major conferences provide a social networking eCommunity for attendees. Take advantage of this tool and complete your profile. Then you can get a jump start on the event before you arrive.
2. Upload any conference badges to your Facebook profile and blog.
Today, many conferences provide custom badges for those attending a conference. Upload it to your Facebook profile and blog. Provide a link to the conference website or fan page and instructions on how other attendees can add it to their profile too.
3. RSVP to any conference related Facebook and LinkedIn Events. Don’t forget to accept any Twtvites too.
This will show up in your social media streams and let people know of your plans.
4. Learn the conference Twitter hashtag and use it.
If you don’t have a Twitter account, you’re going to miss some of the great social media discussions. Sign up now, download Tweetdeck (it’s free) and setup a column to follow that hashtag.
5. Plan ahead and setup your itinerary.
Use the conference’s Itinerary Planner to set your schedule, sort which sessions you want to attend, identify those you want to meet in the hallways, schedule any vendor or exhibitor meeting and by all means, schedule to attend any Tweetups.
6. Bring your digital camera and make sure you have a Flickr and YouTube account.
Engagement is the conference word for 2010. Make sure you have your digital or flip camera with you to document your view of the event. Take lots of pictures and post them on your Flickr, Facebook and YouTube pages.
7. Bring extra batteries or power supplies for your digital camera, flip, mobile device and laptop.
8. Scour your LinkedIn contacts for those attending the conference or in the host city.
Send emails to those contacts letting them know you’ll be in town and offer to meet with them.
9. Backup your laptop before traveling and bring it with you.
Plan on being one of the event’s tweeps tweeting, micro blogging and blogging about your conference adventures.
10. Practice your elevator speech.
People are going to ask you what you do. Don’t respond with, “I’m just a …” Be crisp, clear and memorable.
11. Bring a “can-do” attitude with you.
One that is inviting, welcoming, and ready to learn and network at every opportunity.
12. Give your family and significant other some extra lovin’ before you leave.
Show them how to follow you on Twitter, Foursquare or Gowalla to keep up with your daily endeavors. Text them a couple times a day to show them how much you care (and that you’re a hip geek too). Of course call them at least once a day or better yet, use Skype or Ovoo for a video conference call.
13. Pack clothes for the layered look!
Then it’s easier to adjust to the temperature of the conference facility’s rooms. Typically, most event venues keep rooms cool to control humidity. Don’t complain to the event organizers. Instead, learn to take off or add layers depending upon whether you’re cold or warm.
14. Comfortable walking shoes are a must.
Most event and tradeshow organizers know that it’s important to invest in a good pair of quality, comfortable, sensible and nice-looking shoes. Some favorite brands are Eccos, Cole Haan with Nike Air, Merrill, Mephisto and Rockport.
15. Check out the Exhibitors and Sponsors before the event.
Visit their websites and identify who is attending from each company. Remember those names and faces so you can thank them personally when you see them onsite.
16. Research any event award winners.
Check their conference and social media profiles. Find out why they are receiving awards. Congratulate them when you see them onsite. These are some of the industry’s influencers you should follow.
17. Order some fresh business cards.
Consider some unique cards specific to that event and any offerings you’re making. There are plenty of 24 hour online printing companies that can handle smaller orders
18. Sign up for Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp on your mobile device.
You’ll discover that many social media savvy locals have left a wonderful electronic footprint of the most happening venues, restaurants and events in the host city.
19. Thank the conference organizers before, during and after the event.
Then thank them again. It’s such a thankless job. Let them know you appreciate their hard work.
20. Finally, have fun, learn, network and enjoy it.
What tips would you add?