Throughout the years I’ve attended my fair share of conferences. Residence Life, sorority (Phi Sigma Sigma – LITP!), Stroller Strides… all awesome and inspiring in their own rights, though quite a few years ago at this point.
Disney Social Media Moms Philly Celebration was my first blogger conference; I chatted about the overall experience here. Leading up to the big day, there was a lot of discussion about what you should bring along and expect on the event’s Facebook page.
While this list isn’t the end-all-be-all, here are few things that worked for me and might help you out for upcoming conferences!
1. A BIG OL’ SMILE
many thanks to Beth of http://columbus.macaronikid.com/ for this pic!
First and foremost, a smile and an attitude of gratitude. With those two things, you cannot fail. Everything else in this post is secondary. I was fortunate enough to meet Valerie, Jamie and Beth at the start of the day, along with some other lovely attendees. They immediately put me at ease and gave me… confidence.
For the Disney Social Media Moms event, you applied and then you were invited based on your application. Other conferences are done via registration. Whether it’s by invitation or registration, chances are you want to be in attendance, and conversely the conference coordinators want you to be there!
Nerves are natural and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat nervous at the start of the day. In fact, I’m always a bit nervous meeting new people. It must be a remnant from my shy teen years.
I’ve come to find that when I look good, I feel good. This is a common theme for most people, yes? I hemmed and hawed over what I was going to wear because I wanted to be comfortable, but adorable.
I landed on the dress (Modcloth) immediately but shoes are always a bit tricky for me because I live in running shoes. I took an Instagram poll on which shoes I should wear with my Ready, Wheeling and Able bicycle dress and the overwhelming response was the nude shoes.
Except the first time I wore them, I got a huge gash on the back of my heel. No bueno!
So I wore the red shoes to the conference and my tootsies were thanking me for it. Plus, people were thinking that I was going for the Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz look. Bicycles. Blue dress. Ruby red shoes. I TOTALLY DID NOT SEE THAT. (Pat pat, Meridith. Way to be observant.)
My point is that I totally love my bicycle dress. I adore my little red shoes with the kitten heels. I felt comfortable and confident and ready to take on the world. And the conference!
3. BUSINESS CARDS
Just as your smile and confidence present who you are in person, business cards are a big factor in representing you and your brand, especially after the conference is over.
Using the header from our blog on one side and the Scoot a Doot logo on the other side with our information, we tied our blog/twitter/Facebook and business cards together for consistency. We ordered a bazillion (or five hundred) from Vistaprint.
Trading business cards is nearly as much as fun as pin trading!
As you go around and chat with people, you share cards. That way you can stay connected post event and you’re not wasting time scribbling down contact info on scraps of paper. Additionally, many conferences have door prizes. How do you enter? Business cards, of course.
4. MAKING THE ROUNDS
The doors to the conference room opened at 8am and everyone rushed in to grab seats and explore. Being Disney, there was something to do or look at every which way.
Not going to lie, I was all over the place. I wanted to take pictures and I wanted to talk to people. There was so much to do, so much to see! AND I WANTED TO DO IT ALL.
This is very clever on Disney’s part because the picture opportunities are a built-in ice breaker.
Give Disney fans props and proceed to party! This photo booth style set up was perfect for people who wanted to take pictures. Plus, you get to make friends with the people around you to ask if they’ll take your picture. Or heck, take a picture with you. Win win!
The bummer is that you won’t get to talk to everyone. I saw people I recognized from Facebook, Twitter, and past runDisney events who I would have loved to chat with in person but unfortunately there just wasn’t enough time to make all the rounds. There’s always next time! (Or later – hint, hint – check out number 6.)
5. YOUR THINKING CAP
The clacking of keys from laptops, the quick and nimble fingers flying over Smartphone screens, the scratching of pens and pencils on paper… there was no doubt that it was a social media conference. For me, one of the big questions was: How do you par down what you choose to share and where?
For me, I tried to tweet information on Twitter that I thought were interesting and different. Fun little tidbits which would interest people who weren’t at the conference. I also didn’t want to be so absorbed with being on social media, that I missed what was going on around me (it’s been known to happen). Therefore, I stuck to pen and paper for most of my notes – occasionally hopping on to Twitter/Facebook/Instagram to share things during down time. Find what works best for you and roll with it!
And remember, bring all your electronics juiced up and ready to go. Electrical outlets are a hot commodity!
6. TIME AKA HOOKING UP BEFORE OR AFTER THE ACTUAL CONFERENCE
If you have the opportunity to spend time before or after the event with attendees and feel comfortable and safe doing so, it’s a great opportunity to extend the experience. Attendees and hopefuls of the Philly event created a Facebook page to connect prior to the event. A few opportunities were set up prior and post the conference with nearby vendors, thanks to Aunesty.
Since I was local to the event, I didn’t have too much time to spend sans mom hat, so sadly I didn’t get to partake in those. However, Destiny, Jamie and I were able to make Cheesecake Factory happen!
Like I said earlier, I was a little nervous going into the day but by the time the conference was over and I was ready for lunch, joining up with these ladies seemed like the fantastic idea. We were able to prolong the magic, chat about the conference and life. I felt like I’d know them forever!
There you go! Just a couple of little tips and tricks that I found to be helpful during my first social media conference. Did I miss something? Have you found something helpful that you’d like to share with me and readers? Please comment!