Its summer time, which means convention season is upon us. This week, we've decided to give you some tips and tricks to make the most out of a convention, so that you can get more bang for your buck!
Before you even pay for Convention fees, airplane tickets, and hotel stay - figure out why you're going & what you're trying to get out of the convention.
-If you're still in school, maybe you want to make some connects in the business and find a mentor or land an internship.
- If you're in the business already, maybe you want to catch up with some old radio buddies while you learn new skills.
It does you no good to go to a convention and not know who's speaking or hosting a workshop. Get the itinerary for the convention and research all the major people who will be in attendance. You can even do some internet "stalking", so if you happen to see them during the convention you can talk to them. You wouldn't go to an interview without knowing information, so why go in blindly to a convention?
There's nothing worse than meeting a key player in this industry or maybe a future mentor, and not having your business cards on hand. Be prepared! Have resumes and business cards together a week before the convention. Place business cards in every purse and jacket you're taking with you. Keep your resumes in a folder so they won't get any creases or gunk on them.
Is there a cocktail night during the convention? Make sure your bags are packed for every occasion. But also, make sure you're properly dressed. Don't be the person that wears club heels to a convention session. See: business shoes. Here are some small items to keep in your purse: A mini portable phone charger, some sessions at conventions can be long, and you don't want your phone to die in the middle of it. Keep mints on hand, food is always served and you don't want to be known as the lady with 'bad' breath. Hand sanitizer, you shake so many hands during a convention, you don't know who has a common cold.
While In Sessions
Go to the sessions that you will benefit the most from. It's always great to learn new tips and practices in this industry. Take notes. If the convention has a hashtag, use it, and quote some of the speakers. Make sure you '@' the speakers name too, that's a good way for them to put a name to a face. But be careful, don't be on your phone so much that you look uninterested - people notice that too.
The purpose of conventions is to learn new skills and form new relationships. Emphasis on relationships. Don't go up to anyone and give them an elevator pitch about yourself. Talk to them. They are humans, too. Be casual while remaining yourself at all times. People can sense a genuine connection from a mile away. If by chance, they ask for your resume, give it to them, or e-mail it to them the night you meet them. Most people have their work e-mails connected to their personal phones, so they will see it quickly.
We all know standard eating etiquette - napkin in lap, no talking while food is in your mouth, cutting up all your food, and etc. But it seems at every convention there is someone who doesn't know how to handle their alcohol. Don't be that person. If you're seated with people you don't know, introduce yourself. You never know who you're sitting next to and how you can form a relationship with them.
Don't be so caught up in securing an internship or job that you don't have fun. Many conventions offer nightly activities that are sure to be a good time. Don't skip out on those activities, that's when you get to see some of the big names in the industry let their hair down. Have fun. If you're an introvert, let yourself out of your shell for a couple of days - you won't regret it.
Once you've arrived back home from your convention, make a mental note of what you liked and what you think you could've done better. If you got business cards from people, make sure you e-mail them to follow-up, or write them a note and send it in the mail. If there's something really cool you learned while at the convention, share that information with your colleagues.