Non-negotiables to keep in mind when attending events.

Who’s excited to attend their next event? Conferences and trade shows are thrilling opportunities to meet like-minded individuals, learn cutting-edge strategies, and bring home chic event swag. However, attending events can also be an overwhelming experience. 

Attending events combines all the logistics of taking a vacation and doing business. You have to consider packing, networking, navigating an often unfamiliar venue, managing notes, and so much more. There’s a lot to think about; making the most of your time requires preparation and a winning strategy. That’s where we come in! 

We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to event attendance essentials! Learn what you need and what you don’t need, how to engage with the event community, and more. 

After this article, you’ll have everything you need to look like an attendance pro!

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Know your goals.

We love a good plan! As event organizers, we’re so practiced at combining different elements to create a successful whole. You can use these same skills to prepare for event attendance. As always, knowing what you want dictates what you’ll need. 

Consider what you’re hoping to get out of the experience. You might want to focus on expanding your network or learning about new technology to improve business. Whatever your goal, it will focus the rest of your preparations and help you make the most of your time. 

Goal-related questions: 

  • What is my primary goal for attendance? 
  • Who do I want to meet? 
  • Is there something specific/recent I would like to promote? 
  • How many sessions/activities would I like to attend? 

Study the event venue layout so you don’t get lost looking for the bathroom or entering the wrong session. If it’s a small venue, a few extra minutes on the first morning should be enough. If it’s a larger venue, acquire a map and study it the night before, especially the routes to get to the sessions you’re most interested in.

Study the event’s social media to get a taste of what you’re in for. There may be live performance announcements or extra meet-ups that you can sign up for. You can also study the past work of prominent speakers to prepare for their sessions. 

Remember, the more you know going in, the more effectively you can navigate the event to accomplish your goals.

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Pack the essentials.

This is the part that everyone procrastinates. While packing can be tedious and stressful, it’s vital to successful and enjoyable event attendance. The last thing you want is to arrive and realize you’ve forgotten your laptop charger—especially if it’s international. 

Categorize the various items you must pack to make the task more manageable. This strategy also makes double-checking more efficient. 

Technology 

A laptop, charger cords, cell phone, headphones, and other tech accessories should be the first things you set aside. This guarantees you’ll have the necessary tools to take notes, network and capture visual content. 

Fashion 

While there aren’t strict uniforms, having a few nice outfits you can wear to the event still pays. You’ll make a professional impression on everyone, and your confidence will be high—look good, feel good. Don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes! 

Business essentials 

Don’t get caught without your business cards. There are exciting alternatives to traditional, cumbersome cards that will impress everyone you meet. Consider NFC cards or a dot.band that links to all your contact channels. Include marketing and presentation materials, including charts, handouts, and visual aids, in this category. 

Other items 

A reusable water bottle is an eco-friendly strategy for staying hydrated. If the event is international, don’t forget your travel documents and outlet converters. An extra bag is a good idea if you want to bring back new products or event swag.

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Maintain your health. 

As fun as events can be, they disrupt your routine, making maintaining healthy habits more challenging. A little extra prep will ensure you stay fit and feel good every day of the event experience! 

While event planners are used to shaving off a few hours to burn the midnight oil, protecting your sleep will help you achieve your attendance goals. Getting the most out of keynotes, activities, and networking sessions requires focus, energy, memory, and mental acuity; all require sleep. 

Sleeping 7-9 hours each night guarantees emotional regulation, immune function, and concentration. If you struggle to sleep in hotels, consider bringing a noise machine, cooling fan, or heated blanket to create the optimal environment for rest

Diet is the next thing to go after sleep. It’s all too easy in the hustle and bustle of the event experience to opt for the quickest, cheapest meals—meaning fast food. Study the area before the event to identify healthy (and delicious) restaurants you can visit during lunch breaks. If available, learn about the event catering and which food will likely be provided. 

Don’t forget to bring a few healthy snacks to munch on between sessions. It’ll keep your energy up and prevent a grumbly stomach from distracting you.

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Engaging with the community.

Event experiences are all about making new friends! Explore Facebook groups or use the event hashtag on X (Twitter) and Instagram to discover who’s attending. Identify people you’d like to meet ahead of time to make in-event networking more efficient. 

Pre-event discussions on LinkedIn or Facebook allow you to connect over shared interests and goals, which can lead to a one-on-one message thread. Once you’ve connected, set a time and place to meet so you don’t have to worry about finding them in the crowd. 

Pre-networking over social media increases the likelihood of making meaningful connections with potential mentors(mentor blog link), suppliers, and fellow planners. 

Put yourself in the heart of the action by staying at the conference hotel (if the venue is connected to a hotel). You’ll meet event planners in the elevator, at the breakfast buffet, and anywhere else you travel, increasing the likelihood of unexpected connections.

Be a networking leader by organizing happy hours at local bars. Invite people in your immediate network and new connections you’ve made. Others will see you and your brand as a leader, and you’ll help more introverted attendees make connections; nothing feels better than helping two people find each other! 

Don’t forget to participate in the larger community by posting on social media throughout the event and tagging the organizers and anyone else you meet. Take selfies together or make short videos. The event page will likely share your post, widening your digital reach. 

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Extra tips for event success. 

You’re halfway to a memorable event experience! Simply follow the above advice to maximize the ROI on your time and the event ticket cost. However, while event prep is essential, remaining open to chance is just as important. Don’t overplan and kill the possibility of serendipitous surprises! 

Register early so you don’t get caught waiting in a long line while others enjoy the excitement of the first day. If you’re attending with others from your company, splitting up is a good idea. That way, you cover more ground and increase your chances of meeting new people. 

Lastly, remember to have fun. As corny as this sounds, the event industry is filled with charming people and thrilling innovations. A conference or trade show is your opportunity to meet and get to know the best this industry has to offer. 

Just don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes!

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