Friday, October 12, 2007

Get the most out of next week's IOD conference

Lifehacker blog: Conference attendee tips

As you probably know, a conference is a different beast than a typical business trip, so I've collected some tips to help you better prepare for it. If you're not already familiar with Lifehacker, the award-winning productivity blog, their article on how to prepare for a conference is a good example of their ever-useful advice. Keep in mind, however, that their tip to explore the conference city in advance on Flickr may result in some NSFW images, since we are talking about Vegas after all.

The following tips come from my own sordid past, and from a committee I'm on that is planning next year's IDUG conference:

  • Although people tend to think of a conference as several days of sitting in chairs, dodging flying bullet points, you'll also be walking a mile or two each day just to get around. After that, you'll probably be standing around for two to four hours a night at various receptions, unless your PHB is screaming at you to fight another production fire from your hotel room. Just in case you "accidentally" turn off your cell phone in order to mingle at the evening events, wear the most comfortable shoes you have in order to minimize pain and suffering.

  • Bring a sturdy journal for note taking, and remember to grab a couple of decent pens from the office. Do not rely on the hotel notepads, which disintegrate quickly, or the free pens, which often fail.

  • While in the exhibitors' area, put yourself on a swag diet. Unless your children are very easily amused, the odds are that nobody back home will want or appreciate the T-shirts or various plastic debris you collected from exhibitors. If you don't want vendors cold-calling you at your office for the next few months, don't take any of their swag. Don't get me wrong, a little bit of stuff is OK, just limit yourself to small sackful that can be easily carried onto the plane. For those of you suffering from an OCD that compels you to amass the largest heap of giveaways, don't depart for the conference without your company's FedEx or UPS number.

  • Regardless of the temperature outside, it's a safe bet that the rooms at the conference will be kept slightly colder than a meat locker. If you have to wear a sweater in your computer room back home, you'll probably need one for the conference as well. In fact, just bring whatever you normally wear in the computer room, not only to show it off at the conference, but also to keep your jealous co-workers from wearing it while you're away.

  • While exchanging business cards with new acquaintances (you do plan to meet new people, right?), take a moment to write a quick note about the person on the back of the card they hand you, even if they're still standing there. They'll most likely be flattered that you are taking the time to remember them for later, and you won't be racking your brain later on as you attempt to remember something about that guy or gal you met in some booth after downing your fourth Heineken. Just be discreet while you're jotting down a quick note, and, if possible, try not to let your new colleague see what you're writing about them.

Other than that, eat wisely, take it easy on the caffeine, and drink plenty of water. Call your family each evening (I've found that the break between the day's last session and the beginning of the exhibitor cocktail hour is a very good time), and don't fall behind on sleep. If I've missed anything, feel free to post a comment. See you in Vegas...

Boss photo courtesy of Matthew Lehman



At 4:41 PM, Blogger vmcburney said...

Thanks for the IoD tips. I do have kids so I've taken a half empty suitcase for the free EXPO swag! I am worried that I haven't packed enough warm clothes. Drop by our BearingPoint booth (S2) to play some Wii Tennis - (unfortunately we don't have the budget to give away consoles).


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