I’m currently at a conference in the US of A.
I booked it on a whim, the total cost is more than the GDP of Belgium and I have no idea why I’m here.
Honestly, I’m just looking forward to lying on crisp white sheets in a quiet hotel room, enjoying no one asking me ‘what’s for tea?’.
As I sit in a bath towel debating if I can just ignore the whole thing and go siteseeing, I’m thinking of ways I can make the trip worthwhile.
How can I get the most out of this conference?
What would a real business person do?
They’d set some goals! Right?
I can do that.
So here are my 11 goals for this conference (or maybe this should be a (not) to do list?)
Goal 1: Connect with speakers
I’ve found either lurking by the stage or catching speakers as they enter the toilet cubicle are the two best ways to really make a connection.
And believe me, I love nothing more than blurting out something inappropriate to a D-list famous speaker.
I once told one speaker he smelled nice as we cosied up for a selfie.
I told another he had a good nose.
I meant well, they left quickly.
Goal 2: Let loose
At big events like this it’s all about the networking party, and it’s vital that you let your inhibitions go and really enjoy them.
However, these days I have the drinking capacity of a teetotal humming bird.
One glass of port and I’m dancing naked on the bar.
I think I’m the life and soul, but perhaps I’m not?
Goal 3: Drop it it like you mean it
I always like to drop my bag on the floor in some large communal area, spilling the contents everywhere, to draw maximum attention. Perhaps someone will spot a business card and broker a huge deal with me?
Psst: Extra points if you discover that one rogue tampon whizzing across the tiles – that you’re pretty sure wasn’t actually there when you packed your bag earlier.
Goal 4: Make an entrance
I find that it’s essential to to burst into a least one session late, and suffer the disapproving stares of other attendees.
They will also remember you from Goal 2 and their disapproving stares will turn into pitiful looks of disappointment.
Goal 5: Charge it up
Of course I have a power pack for my phone, I have two.
But that doesn’t mean I actually ever remember to bring them to events.
Oh no, instead I prefer to wander the halls looking for power sockets and then crouch awkwardly waiting for my phone power to go up by 1% every 45 mintues.
Goal 6: Stay hydrated
It’s important to consume at least two bathtubs of water at a conference, this enables you to spend lots of time walking around with a serious expression on your face as you desperately try to find the loo.
If at all possible try to leave the toilet with some loo roll stuck to your foot or your skirt tucked into your undies. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, first impressions count.
Goal 7: Get clarity
I find that it’s helpful to have focus at conference, better to take away one good lesson than get confused by 100 different messages.
I help this process along by only going to one session, then skipping the rest of the day and having a long lunch or a nice foot massage.
It really helps the teaching sink in.
Goal 8: Ask important questions
Another great way to get your name known at conferences is to put your hand up and ask a question during or after a session.
Ideally spend a good five minutes talking about yourself and your business before you ask the question, even better ensure the question has already been asked by someone else, minutes earlier..
If at a loss here are some spare questions you can borrow:
1. Where are the toilets?
2. When does this session finish?
3. Does anyone have a phone charger?
Goal 9: Get stuck in
At conferences, I find that I get the most work done sitting at the back tapping away at my laptop (yes in truth I’m actually watching Married at First Sight, but who’s to know?)
Just be careful not to accidentally yank the headphones out and start blurting out reality TV to the entire room. Been there, done that.
Goal 10: Draw the eyes
If you want people to remember you, do you something memorable.
I find spilling coffee on my boob at the start of an event is helpful.
I’m so practiced that I can often get the stain to represent a celebrity or a country outline, which makes for an interesting conversation starter in the tea breaks.
Another option is to wedge some kind of food stuff in your teeth, broccoli works best but work with what you have people.
Goal 11: Find the balance
You’re at a networking do, clutching a glass of cheap fizz and a damp sausage roll and someone thrusts another business card in your general direction.
What to do?
I like to deftly pop it down my bra, I find it always elicits an interesting response.
For blokes wedging them coquettishly between your teeth is another great option.
Bonus Goal: Network like you mean it
We must make inane chit chat with at least eight other attendees.
That’s an arbitrary figure, but from experience I think you’ll find that:
3 are dull,
2 talk only about themselves,
1 has a weird stain on her boob,
and the another just wants to borrow your phone charger.
If mass humaning frightens you, find one other lonely looking soul and cling to them throughout the entire event – like Kate Winslet on the raft in Titanic (there was room for Leo).
Over to you
What are you usual conference goals?
Share them in the comments below:
Psst: Thanks Mim Harvey, Jessie Zevaka, Vanessa Smith, Sharon Chisholm, Taryn Musgrave, Janet Purcell for their brilliant suggestions for this post.