Always trying to learn from mistakes (and recovering from getting stuck in DC for a day) I had time to reflect on the last few days and here are just a few of the pearls I’ve gleaned from my recent trip to the How ’08 conference in Boston.
1. Know Thy Limits. Don’t overload your day. You want to maximize the amount of info you get since you’re paying all that $$ after all, but remember the ADD and small attention span you normally have at work? Well it’s still there even when you’re at a special event.
2. Build in some time to explore the city you’re in, especially if it’s your 1st time in that city. Again, you spent all that $$ on airfare, why the heck not? I spent my last day in “Bahstun” roaming around the North End and soaking up the ambiance.
3. Have an exit strategy. Now I know why the front rows were so empty in most of my sessions. If you picked the right conference, more than likely they’ll have a lot of overlapping sessions that’re interesting to you. If you’re not sure if a session’s going to be worth your hour or so of precious attention, sit where you can make a inconspicuous exit and try and catch that other session that looked interesting.
4. Pack like you’re going back-packing…in Alaska. Comfy sneakers, arch supports, stretchable pants and warm layers. Trust me, with the amount of bags and swag you’ll be lugging around and the miles you’ll clock getting to and from sessions, you’ll see why.
5. Bring lots of business cards. Should be self explanatory.
6. Make connections. This means a lot coming from someone like me who isn’t good with ice-breaking and networking socials. Everyone at the conference came not just to learn, but to connect so you’re job’s made that much easier. I mean, all you needed to start a conversation was that this person just happened to be walking to the same session as you. Just don’t feel bad that you can’t talk to everybody there, with 4000 people at this last How conference, making a good connection with 4 or 5 people (with business cards from 10 or 20 others) is a success in my book.
7. Take notes and pictures like it’s going out of style. The way my memory works I’m lucky if I remember what the session was about right afterwards, much less, a few days later. Pics and notes help bring that info back up, as well as those fond memories…sigh