Since Lucky FABB's two-day conference just happened last week and IFB's “Closet to Career” mini conference is happening next week, the timing couldn't be better to share several ways that you can make the most out of being an attendee. Regardless of it lasting an hour or over the course of several days, here's four tips on how to maximize your time and money when it comes to attending fashion blogger-related conferences, panels, and/or lectures.
Meet, or “Meet” the Panelists
As a panelist, sometimes it' hard to judge how the audience may be reacting or absorbing the information given, so by getting feedback, compliments, and introductions made after one is a great to finish the event. By introducing yourself to a panelist that you enjoyed hearing, handing off a business card and letting them know you were a sound listener to what they had to say is a great way to make a personal connection that you may not have had the opportunity to do so prior.
If you are watching a panel livestream and aren't there or don't have the time to meet the person, seek out their Twitter handle and shoot them a 140 character message that way, even if it's just to say that they did a nice job up there at the podium. I bet you'll get at least a “thank you” in return, and who knows, even a “follow” too!
Take Notes in a Meaningful Way
Honestly, I've probably filled at least a dozen notebooks with scribbles and scrawls, phrases in all caps and words circled, relevant at the time, to only quickly abandon that notebook and never crack it open again shortly after returning home. Blast! Getting into the mentality that someone is paying you to report back from the conference may sharpen your attention and intuition for those important nuggets of information.
While trying to minimize your phone usage (see social media point below), try to take just the most essential points down, either handwritten or directly into a notes or “Evernote” app, and organize them in a way that will make them easily applicable later. For example, for a fashion blogger's conference, you can dedicate a page to each of the following: sites to check out, projects to try, handles to follow on Twitter, plugins/apps to download, people I met, ways to improve my: revenue, writing, and SEO.
Allot Time to Mingle + Network
If your schedule permits, plan to arrive at the conference/lecture/event a little earlier, stick around for the breaks, and try to keep your schedule as clear as possible after the event. If you travel for the conference, stay at the recommended hotel, and at the very least, in the area, so that you can partake in any extra networking opportunities occurring outside of the conference itself. By freeing up as much time as possible, you'll allow for more occasions to play themselves out, to further foster new contacts and relationships by going to grab a bite with the person sitting next to you at the event, or meeting up for dinner or drinks or anything impromptu that may surface.
A day or two before the conference, put out a tweet or post to see who else you may know or follow will be in attendance, with the chance to anticipate some actual face time with someone you may not have run into otherwise.
Save Social Media Time for Later
Unless you really are being paid to live tweet or blog from a panel/conference, save your social media time for when you have some downtime. I advise checking in on FourSquare when you arrive, tagging the event and tweeting it out so that you can more easily embark upon the aforementioned mingling and networking, but other than that, release yourself from the compulsion to check your phone and tweet every two seconds. Perhaps send a tweet or two at the start of every panel, but otherwise turn your phone off and drop it in your bag.
Let's face it; the main reason for this is that Twitter can completely distract you from what's going on right in front of you, the thing that you may have traveled miles for or paid money to take in, and you shouldn't waste a minute of that time if you can help it. Even during breaks, if you have your head down, constantly checking status updates and tweeting, you may miss out on a chance to meet some really interesting people that obviously have interests that line up with your own.
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]