Have you ever been to a blog conference? If you have, you know just how awesome these events are. If you haven’t… why not? Conferences are a terrific way to boost your confidence, build your business, and make some great connections.
When it’s time to head out to your next blog conference, there are a few things you absolutely can’t leave behind. Here are 10 things to take to your next blog conference if you want to have a great time with no regrets:
1. Business Cards
You’ll be meeting a ton of people when you go to a blog conference, so take a stack of business cards. You’ll want at least 100, but you may want to take a box of 250 or even more just so you never, ever have to wonder if you’ll run out. I got mine at Erin Condren. They were super cute and each had a little inspirational quote on the back.
You should also think about how you’re going to stash the business cards you’ll receive. A little pouch, a big binder clip, or even a baggie would all work to keep your cards wrangled. And do yourself a favor when you get a new card — jot down a note, immediately, right on the card, to jog your memory when you’re going through your cards later. Things like “met in line at book signing” or “lives in Pittsburgh” or “send a guest post idea next month” will be invaluable later on when you’re trying to remember what cards go with which experiences (and which follow-ups you promised).
Thirty-One Gifts sent over some swag to take on my trip (don't forget they have an awesome home business opportunity, too). These little polka dot zipper bags worked great for keeping those business cards I collected in one place until I got home.
2. A Big Bag
Conferences often involve lots of swag. You’ll probably receive things like a t-shirt, books, and a water bottle when you check in, and there will be loads of giveaways throughout the event, too. You’ll want to have a bag with you that’s big enough to carry not only everything you’ll need for the day, but everything you’ll pick up. A cute (large) tote or even a backpack should work.
Pro tip: You’ll also want to take a suitcase that’s big enough to bring back all your swag. If your suitcase is full when you get to the conference, you’ll have a hard time getting it closed when it’s time to go home. Do yourself a favor and leave some extra room.
There are conferences that have loads of food all the time, and there are conferences that have nothing to offer outside of regular meal times. It’s a good idea to pack yourself some snacks to carry with you throughout the day so that you don’t get too hungry to concentrate. Possible ideas include granola bars, apples, bagels, or dried fruits and nuts.
4. A Big Water Bottle
You’re going to be doing a LOT of talking at your conference. Do yourself a favor and stay hydrated as much as possible. You don’t want to be the person with no voice left on Day 3. The bigger the bottle you can find, the better off your throat (and the rest of your body) will be. Just don’t forget to keep it topped off! We have several of these. They are great for taking to the gym, too!
5. Great Pens
You’ll probably be gifted a few pens over the course of your conference, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to have the right pen on you at all times. You know the one — it writes perfectly, every time, with no smudging and none of that annoying scribbling to get the ink flowing.
Pens are great for taking notes during sessions, but they’ll be even more important to you between sessions while you’re chatting it up in the hallways. There are always little notes and reminders to jot down, and about a thousand times when you’ll want to capture an idea or some useful information that comes at you unexpectedly (like, for example, a note-to-self on the business cards you’ll be receiving).
6. A Notebook
You absolutely must take a notebook to any conference you attend. You’ll be taking countless notes during the sessions you attend, and you’ll also have a ton of ideas come to you during the conference that you don’t want to risk trying to remember later on. Some common notebooks might include a pocket-size moleskine, a steno pad, or even a composition book. I got mine through Erin Condren. I choose a simple spiral-bound, lined notebook. I also picked up a pack of pocket corners for stashing more business cards.
7. Shoes You Can Wear All Day
Conferences are a lot of fun, but they involve a lot of long days on your feet. Make sure your shoes are ones you’ll be able to wear all day while doing a lot of standing and walking. I love me some Keds and you can get them in just about every color and pattern.
8. An Extra Battery and/or Charger and/or Power Strip for Your Tech
There’s a lot of tech involved in a blogging conference, from phones to tablets to laptops. Once you decide which of these you’ll have on you during the day (I’d recommend a phone and maybe a tablet, and keep your laptop in your room for the evenings), you’ll need to be prepared to be using them constantly.
Don’t take a chance on running your batteries low and having nothing working halfway through the day. Carry an extra battery for your phone, and a charger for any of the devices you’ll have on you. When you find a moment to charge them up, you’ll be all set and back on your way.
If you really want to be the belle of the ball, take a power strip so you can help others when there’s a shortage of outlets. It’s a great way to meet new people, if nothing else!
9. A One-Page Media Kit
It’s just good sense to have your media kit on you for when you’re meeting other bloggers and potential partners and sponsors. But if your kit is lengthy, spanning multiple pages, you may want to consider creating a one-page kit to hand out. This will save you money (because you won’t have as many color copies to make), it won’t be nearly as heavy to carry around, and it’ll be more efficient for the people you’re meeting. It’s much easier to scan a single page than it is to thumb through a long kit, and you want to make that great first impression. I pick up media kit templates from Etsy.
Take it up a notch and keep your media kits in their own folder. It’ll keep them crisp, and you’ll look like you really have your act together (even if you feel like you’re winging it). I got the folders that had a spot for a business cards. Sponsors loved this! And no one else there had one. My media page includes my traffic and social stats, audience demographics and a list of products and services that convert well on my site.
10. Roommate Gifts
If you’re bunking with a roommate at the conference, it’s fun to take a little gift. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy — think about a couple of small things like a bottle of nail polish, a tube of lip gloss, a pack of your favorite hair ties, a candle, some cute stationery or stickie notes, or even your signature cookies. It’s more about the gesture than anything else.
And there you have it! These aren’t the only things you need to take, but they’re the most important! Just don’t forget to pack a cardigan, too — conference rooms are notoriously cold!