It’s conference time! It’s an awesome time – a time to get together with industry friends, make new ones, and rub shoulders with the industry greats. If it is your first conference, it can be overwhelming trying to navigate through the treacherous world of conference-dom. Thankfully, there are those who can pave the way for the success of those who come after. Here are some great conference hacks that can make your life easier.
Prepare for the Inevitable
First, one travel hack that has saved me much time and aggravation is ensuring all liquids are in a single travel zip lock bag. Do whatever you can to do this. This crams 4 items you may need to take out at the airport at the same time into one single item. This also increases your efficiency and travel through security much faster. A fairly general thing that seem silly now, I know, but you’ll thank me later.
Next, SMX conferences always have power strips in the first and second rows of the session rooms. Try to get into the session rooms at least 30 minutes prior to the session if possible if you need to use a power strip. This helps make sure that you are able to keep your laptop running all day every day.
For example, if I am at a conference and notice I am low on power, I will probably spend one session without my computer plugged in and the next with my computer plugged in. Or, an entire afternoon could go by before I have access to charging capability. This helps ensure that the live blogging publishing capabilities of your laptop continue throughout the entire conference (if you’re into that sort of thing).
Divide and Conquer
Take a conference buddy if you want a chance to go to all possible sessions. No one person can go through the entire conference alone (there are three tracks of information at SMX for example). If your company will allow, you will want to make sure that you bring along a conference buddy so that you can compare notes.
Meet & Greet
Research the people you want to meet that you expect to be at the conference. For example, if you want to meet Danny Sullivan, he is a very visible person, so perhaps after a session if you are lucky you will get to meet him. Or, if you want to meet Matt Cutts or Duane Forrester, also very visible people, you will want to wait until after a session.
Before a session is usually not the best time to get a chance to meet them as they are very likely preparing for the session. Also, don’t forget to bring a capable camera for a photo op. You’ll very likely get the chance to take a photo if you wait patiently for others and you ask very nicely. Remember, they are busy professionals too.
Book the conference hotel if your company will allow it. You will have an opportunity to be as close to the conference as possible. Believe me, trying to get to a session when you accidently wake up 30 minutes before the conference begins is not fun if you are in a hotel that’s 5 blocks away. Plus, you will get an opportunity to run into conference attendees and speakers if you are in the same conference hotel.
At SMX West in San Jose`, there is a double convenience – the conference hotel is right on top of the convention center where the conference is held. So, you can literally just walk through a door and you’re right at the conference. These are some of the many benefits of choosing the conference hotel.
Post Once, Post All
Setup your smart phone with a social media scheduling app like Hoot Suite or even Instagram. These programs allow you to send photos you take to your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…) simultaneously. Nothing’s worse than taking a photo and then having to take the time to send it to three social networks when you’re on the way to the next session. You may miss opportunities to meet other people along the way.
Put Your Feet Up, Folks!
There are many hacks that you can perform that will make your conference experience more enjoyable, educational, and fun for all who are in attendance. While these are not the be-all end-all of conference hacks, paying attention to some (or all of these if you prefer), can help make your conference more enjoyable.