By Dannielle Cresp
Since I was fortunate enough to attend the design and blogging conference Altitude Design Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah in January, I thought I'd start this new column off with some tips on how to get organised for a conference like Alt.
- Look at the schedule as soon as it's released and choose the sessions that are the best fit for you
- If you're looking to talk with sponsors: know who they are ahead of time and choose a couple to make time to speak with
- Go with an open mind. A conference like Alt is a great place learn about things you hadn't considered for your creative business or blog
- Pack your business cards and your smile. Business card exchange is a big part of Alt. It's a great way to start a conversation with other creatives and to make some new friends
- Have your elevator pitch for your creative business or blog ready. The question you will get asked most after 'Do you blog?' is 'What's your blog about?' If you're not a blogger you can read this as 'Tell me a bit about your creative business'. Have something that can get a conversation going.
When You're There
- Even if you don't know anyone, take a deep breath, smile and say hello to someone new. Ask if they've been before and about what they do.
- Take a breather when you need it. Not all conferences are the same as Alt where they have a lounge for you to take a break, but if it's getting too much, allow yourself some space.
- Take a notepad, pens or the electronic device of your choice to the sessions and take all the notes and photos that you want to. There's so much going on you'll want a memory trigger later, to remember what you saw and heard.
- Put your hand up. If you have a question for the speaker or the panel, ask it during the Q&A at the end of the session. It's your chance to ask them and there's probably someone else who wants to ask it, but hasn't found the right words.
- Go to the parties or evening events, even just for a short time. If you're shy like me, you might not want to, but the networking that comes from them makes it worth feeling a little out of your comfort zone.
- Keep non-attendees in the loop. If you're on social media share a photo or a quote from your favourite speaker. Ask your followers if they have a question that they'd love for you to ask on their behalf.
After it's Over
- Take a day or two to come down from it. It can be a really heavy feeling after a big conference, and you don't want to let the inspiration slip away, but you don't want to get burnt out either. Take some time to chill after and you will be able to turn that inspiration into something awesome easier than if you'd forced it.
- Follow up. Email that sponsor you had a great conversation with. Add your new friends to your Twitter or follow them on your preferred social media network. Email them for a catch up.
- Share your experience with others. In person, on your blog or website, on Flickr or social media. Attendees, the organisers of the conference and non-attendees alike would love to hear/see how you found the conference from your point of view
Most of all remember that being ready for a conference like Alt allows you time to have fun and soak it all in. After all, you went there for the whole experience. I hope this helps you enjoy your conferences like I enjoyed Alt.
Dannielle is a blogger, web designer, serial organiser and passionate traveller. She has a secret love of 90s teen movies and can often be found on Twitter. In 2013, Dannielle is packing up her life in Melbourne into one suitcase and moving to Canada to make her crazy dream of a more adventurous life happen. You can find out more on her blog.