We’re only five days away from one of my favorite online marketing events, NMX 2014. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips for preparing for NMX or any conference event!
1. Create a doc with all of your travel arrangements.
Hotel missing your reservation? Can’t remember what time your flight departs? Create an easy to access email, document, notepad entry, etc. with your main travel details. This can include airline, flight numbers, arrival / departure times, hotel name and address, and other pertinent information. It comes in quite handy.
2. Plan your sessions, meetings, and extracurricular activities in advance.
NMX offers up to nine different sessions to choose from at any one time slot. The fifteen minutes in between isn’t the best time to choose which session you want to go to next – it’s better to use that time networking with the speaker or hitting the restroom. Use the handy NMX schedule to pick your sessions in advance. While you’re at it, jot down a list of your favorite speakers’ Twitter handles so you can do some live tweeting during the session.
The schedule allows you to connect with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter so you can see who else in your network is going and what sessions they will be attending. This brings me to my next point – if you want to meet someone in particular, try to arrange a time to chat in advance. The conference can get pretty crazy, and there’s nothing more frustrating than to try to coordinate via tweet / text. Trust me, you’ll be locked into a battle of you are in the exhibition hall while the other person is leaving a session. Or worse, your by the bar at the networking event and they are floating around somewhere in the back. By the time the other person checks their messages and arrives, you have moved elsewhere. By the end of the conference, you’ve probably missed meeting up.
If you haven’t planned any meetings before getting to NMX and want to know who all is there, be sure to follow the #NMX hashtag. Then try to make the meeting coordination by tweet as easy as possible by giving a future time and location to meet.
Last, but not least, if you’re trying to plan some fun time in Vegas, do that in advance as well. Figure out which night’s networking parties end early enough for you to catch the Vegas show you want to see, or figure out which morning’s sessions you’re ok with missing out on because you hit up that trendy nightclub until the wee hours.
3. Bring lots of business cards.
While there are lots of neat apps that let you share your information from one mobile to another, you can’t guarantee that the person you want to connect with will have the same capabilities. Business cards are a sure thing. If you don’t have any, your best bet to get them in time is to find a local printing shop to rush print some cards for you. And it’s always to bring more cards than you need than to be meeting a great potential client and having none.
4. Bring all of your chargers.
Chargers are expensive. Don’t forget one of yours and have to buy one on the fly. Also, if you tend to run out of mobile or iPad battery before the day is over, consider an external battery pack charger. I have the PowerGen 12000mAh External Battery Pack – it will keep your iPhone and iPad going all day long, and it’s available for free two day shipping if you’re an Amazon Prime member.
5. Empty some space on your mobile device.
At some point during the conference, you’re going to want to snap a quick picture or video without whipping out your DSLR. This may be of a neat vendor’s display in the exhibition hall, a person you run into that you want to get a photo or quick interview with, or a particularly interesting slide during one of the sessions. Make sure that you’ve got a free gig or two on your mobile device to capture those memories.
6. Make sure you feel confident.
Networking is tough for lots of people. One way to ease your way into it is to make sure you feel absolutely confident. This may involve purchasing a new outfit or two, bringing a spare outfit for those oops moments during meals, buying that expensive shampoo that makes your hair feel great, scheduling a massage beforehand, or having nice but comfortable shoes. They may seem like small things, but they can add up big in the confidence department.
Also, make sure your elevator pitch is on key. You’re going to be meeting people left and right, so know what to say when they ask you what you do. This might include telling them about your business, your job, or your blog. It should just be a sentence or two, and it should let the listener know what you do, who you do it for, and the benefits (if applicable).
And while you’re at it, don’t forget about making your online presence as confident as your offline presence by getting it up to date before leaving for the conference. Is your Twitter bio, Facebook page short description, LinkedIn summary, and Google+ story all current? Is your blog? Start updating them now if they aren’t so that people connecting with you can easily find you online and learn more about you.
7. Take actionable notes.
If possible, don’t just write down what a speaker is saying. Write down how you can apply what the speaker is saying to your blog or business. If you’re taking handwritten notes, bring along a highlighter so you can highlight major action items. If you’re taking notes on your tablet (I like the combination of a Penultimate app for iPad and a stylus), use the different colors to highlight action items, quotes for your recap post of the event, and so forth. If you’re taking notes on your laptop, use the highlighter in your document to highlight those main points. This will help you not just hear great things, but actually get some use out of them. Also, if you are planning a recap post about the event, write down people’s names next to what they say in the panel sessions. It’s tough to remember by the time you get home.
8. Find out where your food / caffeine sources are located.
Know you’re going to need a snack or pick-me-up caffeine break? Figure out where you want to stop in advance so you’re not missing a session because you got lost in the casino. There’s a handy property map of the Rio here.
Speaking of food, be sure to save your receipts if you are writing off your trip for tax purposes!
9. Stay healthy.
Thwart a pesky cold before it gets started by bulking up on some vitamin C or, my personal favorite, Emergen-C.
10. Register before the event.
If you haven’t already, don’t hesitate. Register for NMX now using this link and save an extra 20% using my discount code KRISTI20. Don’t wait until you get to the event and pay full price! Since I’m attending, I’m a proud affiliate!
Are you going to NMX this week? Let me know in the comments!