If you haven’t ordered your business cards yet, you need to! You need to have something to hand people. Also have a 5 second explanation of what you do, since you’ll be introducing yourself a lot. Last year I slacked and ended up printing my cards on my home printer and cutting them out by hand. Not pretty, but better than nothing.
When someone hands you his or her business card, have a pen with you to jot down a note on the back of the business card of something that will jog your memory when you get back with the stack of cards you received. “The guy in the green shirt from Denver” or maybe “The lady who I want to chat with about how she crossed silos.”
Spend lots of time chatting with vendors. They’re really great at showing you tools and solutions for problems you might have, even if you’re nowhere near the purse strings. You’re entered in a drawing if you talk with all the vendors. New this year is dedicated time set aside to talk with the vendors.
In between conferences, one of my favorite things to do was sit with a table of strangers. Sure, I had other coworkers who attended the conference with me but the conversations outside of the sessions were invaluable as well.
If this is a work-sponsored trip, you’ll probably be asked to give an after-conference report. It’s best to try and get all your notes written down and typed up as you go or as soon as possible afterwards so you don’t have to think about it later. I personally like to use OneNote to take notes. Every day is its own tab, and then each session is its own page. I like to take time at the end of the day to reset, and review notes and business cards. Then I can start the next day fresh.
People use Twitter to coordinate where to meet up in the evening. Use the search function to search #LavaCon. Even though I’m in the tech industry, I had never had a reason to use Twitter until last LavaCon. Fortunately, people there are really friendly; feel free to ask and don’t worry about needing help.
I’m excited to see everyone there!