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The *REAL* Conference Guide: 10 Non-Traditional Tips From A Conference Veteran
Looking for conference strategies on how to get new customers and meet investors?
That is not this post.
Want not to feel like total crap and avoid conference idiocy with real life tips from someone who has been there?
THIS IS THE POST FOR YOU!
I have conference street cred:
1,000,000 hours (or thereabouts) talking to strangers, working the booth, and, let’s be real: partying 🤙
7x Dreamforce attendee, SugarCon, Saastr, ExactTarget Connections, Pardot User Conference, a bunch of others I can’t remember
Wore a navy blue polo and nurse shoes for at least 3 Dreamforces
Conference and booth duty all week, raced a half Ironman on the weekend
Fake partied with my team when I was 1st trimester pregnant (see tip #6!)
Mistaken for a booth babe (embarrassing & flattering)
Threw up on public transportation
(If you’ve seen them conference, you KNOW.)
They are black ops level conference masters.
But I’m a student of the game, with many years of experience, and here to pass on hard-earned conference wisdom.
Read on for the top
mistakes I’ve made, I mean, advice on bringing your conference A game!
10 Conference Tips You *ACTUALLY* Need
1. Drink Alllllll The Water.
See a bottle of water? Drink it.
Water for sale? Buy it.
Free conference water? Take 4.
Branded water bottles from a booth? Yes please.
If you haven’t had a sip of water in the last 30 seconds, you are massively dehydrated and will die by the end of the week.
Binge drinking water is the #1 rule of conference success.
Normally, I’m a bring-my-own-bottle kinda gal. Save the world, avoid plastic.
At a conference? Sorry, Earth. Hellooooo BPAs.
THIS IS ABOUT SURVIVAL.
Speaking of survival…
2. Locate The Closest Starbucks.
If you don’t know where the Starbucks is, it’s too late.
Here’s why you need Starbucks:
Very strong coffee.
Large cups of coffee.
Relatively healthy snacks (especially in California). LOAD UP.
Spinach, feta, egg white wrap for breakfast. I suggest 2.
If you can find an amazing local coffee shop, go for it.
When I’m in conference beast mode, I like to sell out to corporate chains for the consistency, known menu, and to avoid decision fatigue.
Also, sometimes finding the SECOND CLOSEST Starbucks is the real win. All the caffeine, half the line.
3. Never Party With Sales.
Think you can hang with the sales team?
Want to go out with your friends in sales?
Sales people are conference immortals.
They can drink a gallon of vodka, go to bed at 4a, wake up smelling fresh and looking sharp, and then close 10 deals in a single day.
THIS WON’T WORK FOR YOU. (Unless you are a sales immortal…)
Ditto for anyone from Australia or the UK.
They are cooler than you, their livers are stronger, and their accents provide unlimited charisma.
Partying with Australian or British sales people will be the most fun night of your life.
But you will oversleep your alarm, smell like vomit, and turn into a worthless Con-Zom (Conference Zombie) for at least 2 days.
never rarely worth it.
And speaking of oversleeping alarms…
4. Set Your Phone Alarm Now.
Recurring alarm, set for the whole week, on the earliest time you’ll need to wake up.
And for godsake bring a battery pack!!!!!!
Do not leave your hotel room without a phone charger, battery pack, and phone at 80% battery.
Because you know what causes an alarm malfunction? A phone that is totally dead because you forgot to plug it in.
Not that I missed my 8am coffee meeting at Marketing Cloud Conference in 2013 because of a dead phone battery….😬
5. Hide For At Least 5 Minutes Every Hour.
The bathroom makes a great hiding spot. (Especially if you’re following #1 Drink Allllll The Water.)
Guys - please weigh in. I’m not familiar with the men’s bathroom.
You can also find a tiny corner and fake charge your phone.
If sunlight is within a 1 mile radius, head outside for a breath of fresh air and glimpse of nature before returning to the dungeon vortex, I mean, conference.
Tiny moments of peace and recharge are the key to conference stamina.
Heroes are made on Days 3 and 4.
6. Learn How To Fake Drink.
A skill I perfected while secretly pregnant at a conference but something I’ve really leaned into as I’ve gotten older and weaker.
Of course, it’s totally fine to just drink old fashioned water (see #1 Drink Alllll The Water) but certain social situations will be very conducive to booze (e.g. entertaining customers who want to rage, team bonding, etc.).
A few strategies depending on how covert you need to be:
Order a beer in a bottle. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. Ask the server to dump the beer and fill with water.
Order vodka and soda. Follow server, update your order to be soda and lime. But keep them in on the secret so they “announce” it as vodka soda.
Go for a non-alcoholic beer or other NA liquor. Unless someone else knows their NA brands, no one will notice. Athletic Brewing Company makes delicious “near beer.”
7. Meet Someone For A Workout.
Shout out to Blake Koriath, my conference running buddy.
Many better decisions were made because I had to meet Blake for a 6am run.
Plus it’s a great way to catch up without sitting and eating a meal or drinking coffee!
Is this a shameless plug for Pitch and Run ATL at Venture Atlanta this week?
But this is!!!! →→→
You should come to Pitch and Run on Wed, Sept 27, 2023 at 6:45a. Register here!
(You don’t need to attend Venture Atlanta to join for the run.)
8. Invest In A Good Mint.
Coffee breath? No thanks.
Tequila fumes leaching from your body. Also, no thank you.
I love chewing gum. But as my first booth boss informed me, it’s tacky and distracting.
Find a great mint, stock up, and let your breath confidence flourish.
9. Expect To Get Sick.
90% chance you get sick.
At the very least, you’ll lose your voice.
Lack of sleep, constant junk food, too much talking, germs from far away lands, sticky handshakes, close talking with hundreds of strangers.
You’re basically licking a petri dish while punching your body in the face!
How can you get ahead of this?
Make sure to pack cough drops, Emergen-C, chapstick, and hand sanitizer.
It won’t make a difference but you’ll feel proactive!
10. Schedule a 1 Day Return Buffer.**
**DOES NOT INCLUDE TRAVEL!!!
Block your calendar for at least one day after you get back for follow up and digging out of your inbox.
If you don’t do follow up now, it will never get done.
If you think you can do it on the plane, you’re wrong.
If you think you’ll do it the night you get home, also wrong.
Block your cal, work from home, and recover, I mean, get shit done to make the conference worth it!
Prepare To Dominate
Absolutely no tips on networking, selling, prospecting, or how to work the booth.
(You know how to do that.)
But EVERYTHING you need to have your best conference yet.
Avoid zombie status.
Achieve conference immortality!!
What’s your best conference advice? Are you a conference immortal? What’s your best conference story??