Conference Survival Guide–The During

Please hop back in time to read part 1–.

I’m not going to lie to you. If you’re looking for some nice candy-coated nonsense, move along! You won’t find it here.

The truth is: You will be overwhelmed.

Better you know it now and at least can shove your mind in the direction of crazy.  So much is crammed into conferences, by the end you feel like you’ve lived a month’s time in just a weekend.

But really, it’s ok. You’ll find out that you’ve never been so inspired in all your life. (Yes. At every conference, you feel like you’ve never been quite that inspired.) The objective is to harness that feeling. Grab the reigns and take control of the wild, flailing beast before it overtakes you.

You’ll be happy to hear I’ve got this conference-thing down to a science. What I hope is that I can help you have a more relaxed experience which will then pan out to be super productive in The After days and weeks and months.

1. The Information Overload

The best way I’ve found to overcome the overload is my handy-dandy notebook. Do not (I repeat!) Do NOT try to process ANY information while you’re there.  You’ll hurt yourself.  In your notebook (Go. Get it now.)  Jot down these titles on separate pages:

  • People
  • Websites
  • Books
  • Ideas

Remember, don’t process this stuff while you’re there. That’s what The After is all about. Write down everything you want to explore in your notebook. When that brilliant idea strikes you at two in the morning, write it down. It will never come again if you don’t. (Trust me. I know.)

2. Have Fun

I can’t stress this point enough. Go into this knowing that you’ll learn a lot, but also know that more important than the learning are the connections that you’ll make. They’re invaluable. So get a business card, Twitter, Facebook, email, or blog address from everyone. Get some kind of information. Make notes about people–“Michelle has a dog with the same name as ours.” Make notes to help you remember these connections. You’ll be glad you did.

Once you put your nervousness behind you (and it belongs behind you!) Go with the flow, join conversations, mingle, ask questions, get to know the people.

Because the people are the heart of event.  As they should be.

3.  Be Flexible

Like I said last time, know what which sessions you want to attend, but if you get the chance to sit down for lunch with the Key Note then do not (do NOT!) forgo that opportunity for a session. Unless, of course, you’re on the panel. Then you kind of have to be there. Otherwise, take advantage of spontaneous adventures.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Nap

There. I said it. If you stayed up too late and can.not. make it another minute…go take a powernap.

5. Don’t Forget To Call Home

You laugh. But wait. You’ll see how easy it is for time to slip right through your fingertips.

6. Do NOT Process Information

This is most important and bears repeating. Write everything down. Make notes. At the end of the day, go through the notes and make sure you’ve got things in order. But don’t start to process the information. If ideas are banging to get out, jot them down on the idea page. After the conference, you can unpack your notes. After you unpack your suitcase.

That’s it for today. Tune in next time for Part 3–The After.

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