Whether you joined the workforce during the pandemic or you’re just out of practice traveling for work after three years of virtual event attendance, getting ready to attend an in-person professional conference or event can feel a little overwhelming.
From how to greet and interact with colleagues to what to pack and how to make the most of your time, there’s so much to consider!
As we look forward to our Accelerate event in October, we thought we’d compile a list of all the things you’ll want to include in your packing list and how you can prepare when you’re prepping to travel for a work event.
Read on to feel more prepared for your next conference or in-person work event!
Pack the right stuff
One of the best ways to ensure you have an enjoyable and productive time at a conference is to make sure you pack the right things.
You’ll likely be walking a lot at any event you attend, so comfortable shoes are a must. This isn’t the time to buy a new pair and plan to break them in at the event.
Unlike the days of pantyhose and heels, many modern professionals pair their business casual clothing with clean, comfy sneakers.
Even if you’re wearing shoes you’ve worn 1,000 times before, it can be a smart move to bring along some Bandaids for blisters. You might find that walking across a conference center or hotel ballroom rubs your feet in ways you didn’t expect – and no one wants to ruin a good time with a blister.
For heading from cold, air-conditioned conference rooms to outdoor cocktail parties, layering is a must. Find a sweater or light jacket that matches all of the outfits you bring on your trip, and you won’t have to worry about taking up too much room in your carry-on.
Reusable water bottle
Many conference centers and hotels these days have water stations, and a reusable water bottle will be your best friend. Not only does bringing a bottle cut down on waste, but it also helps ensure that you stay hydrated and feel your best.
One of the hallmarks of a good conference is networking. You can’t network without talking, and you’ll likely be doing way more talking than you do in an average three-day span. Cough drops can help if you start to feel hoarse or lose your voice.
Everything in moderation
Speaking of losing your voice… While a conference is a chance to network, meet new people, and learn new things, it’s not a time for you to try to “do it all.”
You’ll end up exhausted and probably sick. Remember to pace yourself, especially when it comes to many of the fun after-hours social events.
While those parties are a great way to get to know colleagues more causally, you don’t want to end up regretting a late night when it’s time to wake up and join the morning sessions.
Speaking of sessions, if you’re attending a large conference where there will be multiple tracks and sessions going on at once, it’s important to sit down ahead of time to think about what you hope to take away from the event. Once you have that goal in mind, it will be easier to decide which sessions are worth including in your itinerary.
Depending on the event you’re attending, you’ll want to look at the fine print for registering for and attending sessions. You may have to pre-register for everything except the keynotes, so you’ll be sure to have a seat.
When it comes to Accelerate, the event is kept purposefully intimate and exclusive, so you won’t have to worry about choosing which sessions to attend and which sessions to skip. You’ll be able to focus without the FOMO.
Plan to network
We talked a bit about networking earlier. A conference is a chance to meet colleagues you may never get to interact with in daily life. This can be an exciting proposition or, to the introverts out there, a terrifying one.
It can’t hurt to come armed with some topics you feel comfortable chatting about or even practice small talk with your partner or friend in advance.
Odds are, everyone else at the conference is feeling a little strange about meeting in person after three years of isolation, so go easy on yourself no matter how you feel about the networking part of conference life.
The bottom line is that conferences are a great way to meet colleagues and learn new things that can help your career. So whatever you pack and however you plan, make sure to have fun!
Are you attending Accelerate or interested in learning more about joining us? Our website includes tons of details on the agenda, conference site, and what to expect from your time with us in Atlanta! Check it out, and let us know if you have any questions!