December 2, 2016

I have been to many a conference in my career. I have had to go to several annually and they vary in distance all across the state. Conferences are beneficial in that they have cover important aspects of your job, and they condense a lot of good information into a relatively short amount of time. Conferences vary from 2 days to 5 days or more. Travel may involve driving to a nearby location, or it may require that you hop on a plane. Whatever the circumstance, here are some helpful tips in navigating your conference.

1. Travel as light as possible.
Dress may vary from conference to conference. Your conference may require business professional dress while others only require business casual or casual. If you have to pack your pantsuits, use a nifty Wallybag from J.C. Penney to make sure your dresses and suits stay wrinkle free. This is a sure fire way to make sure that you only have to check one bag. If you are driving to your conference destination, this can be a useful bag for making sure you don’t take up too much space, especially if you’re car-pooling. For toiletries, purchase travel size for easy packing and for making sure you following TSA guidelines. If you need to bring multiple pairs of shoes, invest in some shoe bags from Bed, Bath & Beyond to keep your shoes clean and to reduce the spreading of germs in your bag.

2. Be sure to bring a laptop or tablet for taking easy notes, or for downloading presentations. 
Some presenters will send the conference organization their PowerPoint slide presentations ahead of time, so you can easily follow along. I like to take notes on the presentation slides themselves, so I am always bringing my MacBook Air whenever I attend a conference. If you are like to take handwritten notes, be sure to pack a notepad and extra pens. Some conferences will provide these for you, but I like to bring my own just in case. If you are looking for some pretty notepads, get these from Target!

3. Bring a refillable bottle and snacks. 
If you do have a ways to travel, or if you tend to get low blood sugar (like me), keeping some snacks handy can help to reduce hunger and increase focus. Also, some conference venues have food courts, but the food can be astronomically expensive. A small bag of trail mix was nearly $5 at my last conference. Bring multiple snacks and refillable water bottle. Chances are a water fountain or water cooler will be nearby.

4. Wear layers.
It could be Summer or Winter, but I have found that most conference arenas or halls are ice cold. I always pack a light sweater, or blanket scarf for those cold rooms. You can also bring along a cardigan, or vest if you are looking for something to easily remove.

5. Network!
One of the positive aspects of going to conferences is the opportunity to network. Striking up a conversation at the coffee bar line could even lead to a future contact. Be sure to pack plenty of business cards, or something that can be used for people to get in touch with you. You never know when you may need help on a project, answer on an issue, or heck, even a future job opportunity!

6. Relax & Enjoy.
Unless your conference is incredibly fast-paced, there should be room left for leisure and relaxation. If you are in a new city, don’t feel guilty for setting aside a few hours to explore. Head to a popular restaurant (not a chain restaurant), a neighborhood pub, or even a museum in the area. If you are staying in a hotel, ask the front desk or concierge on dinner ideas or ideas for fun. I am sure there is something for you to do to unwind while you are away from the office for a few days.

Are there any tips that you would include as well? Tell me below! 

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