I know a bunch of you are off to the SCBWI conference in NY today so I thought I'd share some conference tips I find helpful!
I have a love/hate relationship with conferences.
I love meeting new people and learning new things-- and soaking in all that good energy from being around a crowd of like minded individuals feels so good. It can be a heady experience.
However, I do not like feeling stressed out by the constant go-go atmosphere and barrage of information. Add a few critique sessions on top of that and it can get overwhelming fast--especially for the wee introvert who is used to happily working alone at her desk.
So besides the basics-- bringing your business cards, looking good, and honing your elevator pitch--here are my top 6 conference survival tips:
- Stay hydrated and remember to eat! It seems pretty standard to have a speaker during meal times and it's just so easy to get so absorbed that you forget about your lunch. Don't make this mistake! Eat, eat. I would even stash a few snacks in your bag, just in case you need them later. And yes, a water bottle can be a pain to carry around, but you'll feel so much better if you drink water throughout the day. I find hotel air to be dry, and don't forget your brain needs to be hydrated to work at tip-top shape. Extra bonus: bathroom lines are among the best places to meet people, right up there with cocktail parties. I promise.
- Wear Layers. Inevitably you will be too cold or too hot in one room or another. I find a big scarf and/or light sweater is helpful.
- Remember to sleep. So this is a controversial one. Lots of people advocate staying up to all hours of the night networking (aka partying) because that is what you're there to do. But if you're like me, that's really not the best move. Especially if you're there for the whole three days-- you're absorbing a ton of information, and I'm so much more on top of my game after a good night's sleep. Obviously, I would make an exception for something really fabulous, but in general don't underestimate the power of shut-eye.
- Take Breaks. Last year at a conference, I mentioned feeling a bit strung out and someone replied that they always skip one workshop for some alone-time. I'm sure some of you are cringing at the thought, but I decided it was genius. You don't have to actually skip a whole workshop, but scheduling in breaks for yourself is a smart move.
- Take advantage of "unofficial" networking events. As someone who has a hard time walking into a room of hundreds of people to go "network," I've realized I can seek out similar opportunities, but with smaller groups. Go to that dinner you got invited to. Is someone in your chapter having a party? Don't skip it. Often these unofficial gatherings are just as, if not more, rewarding than the conference-planned ones.
- Plan to meet up with people you know from online. A week or so before you go, reach out to people on twitter or Facebook and let them know you're attending. I hate that feeling when you walk into the hotel and there are hundreds of people and you don't know anyone. It can feel daunting. But this way, especially if you're going alone, you'll recognize a few faces. And it's always great to meet an online friend in person.
So that's my list. Did I miss anything? Got any other tips to share?
Have fun everybody!