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Kathryn Boyles

Published on

February 5, 2019


professional skills, social media

You’ve been assigned to run social media for your first conference, congratulations! There is nothing more exciting than having the opportunity to get out of the office and on the ground floor of an event for your client. Your first conference is an event that you will never forget. Until you are on the conference floor in the moment, you won’t know how your experience is going to pan out. To relieve worries and reduce stress, here are 5 pro-tips for surviving your first conference on the social media team.

Pro-tip #1: Accept that Something Will Go Wrong

You need to accept this up front. This is a conference, there will be thousands of attendees and a thousand moving parts. There is no way that you will capture every moment, and that is ok! Quite literally, there is not enough time for you to become upset if something does not go as planned. Move on and let that sh!t go! You have places to be. I promise, missing one tweet or image opportunity will NOT ruin your entire conference social plan. Fix what you can and keep truckin’ along. You plan for the best and prepare for the worst, which leads directly into my next tip…

Pro-tip #2: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

Try to say that five times fast! The more you can prepare ahead of time, the better you will be. I highly encourage you to create a master schedule Google Sheet. This living document should hold every single detail of your daily schedule. Be specific and as nitty-gritty as possible. You want to include big picture items with your specific tasks. Transfer over generic conference events and details from the official schedule (Registration, Breakfast, Lunch, etc.)  Next, fill in your daily responsibilities and events you need to attend. Below is an example of what I personally used while working on the Social Media team at VMworld, a large global conference for virtualization and cloud computing.Schedule

What to include:

  • Date, Time, Event Name
  • Location!!! (You do NOT want to be scrambling trying to figure out what room an event is located in)
  • Social Details – This is will save you a significant amount of time and set you up for efficiency and success! Include speaker names, job titles, social media handles, etc. Take the time to do a light background search on important people and note anything specific you may want to share.
  • Information on the event/session – Look through the conference catalog and copy/paste details provided for each event or session of interest. This comes in handy if you are in a bind needing to “live-tweet” or post on sessions that are at the same time. Take the time to plan ahead and use every resource available!

Extra tips on planning ahead:

  • Arrive the day before the conference is in full swing. Settle in, register, and walk the conference area. (Hint – pull up your Google Sheet and find the locations you are going to need to be at the next few days – yes this is very 1st day of High School-esque, but you will thank yourself later!)
  • Think about what you will personally need to be comfortable and happy throughout the conference… cue Pro-tip #3

Pro-tip #3: What to Bring

Conferences are long-days for everyone involved. When you are working at a conference, there is a much larger undertaking than if you were attending. You are likely going to be “on” from the moment you wake-up until the end of all conference events that evening. The harsh truth is there may be days where you are too busy to make it to the meals. The last thing you want to happen is to be working a 15-hour day, unable to grab a quick bite to eat, while you need to work at 100%! Plan ahead for these moments.
Don’t forget to bring:

  • Comfortable shoes – This is the MOST important item. You will be walking, a lot. There were days I was topping out at 6+ miles of walking (The Health app on your phone will keep track for you. Always fun to take a look and be impressed by how much exercise you’re getting each day.) Function over fashion friends. No one is going to be looking at your feet. They will, however, be looking at you if you aren’t able to get where you need to be quickly because you’re limping from soreness with feet covered in blisters!
  • Backpack – Look at the conference website ahead of time. They might be supplying everyone with a backpack, if so you lucked out and can ignore this tip! If not, bring a backpack. You will be carrying around several devices, chargers, personal items, etc. A backpack allows you to disperse the weight evenly over your back – again, think function over fashion!
  • Portable Charger – Enough said. The last thing you want is to scramble for power when you are in-charge of taking images and possibly even video content. Bring a backup, maybe even two.
  • Food – Think easy to consume, lightweight items. Protein bars, snack mixes, crackers, etc. Anything you can eat with one hand in a rush. Please please please, bring snacks that you have eaten before. This is not the time or place to experiment with new foods!
  • Personal-Care Items – Bandaids, NSAIDs, Tums, Breathe-mints, Chapstick. Any little item that can provide comfort for an inevitable headache or hiccup in your week will save you!
  • Dressy Outfit – There will be opportunities to attend events in the evening. This can range from a vendor-sponsored party to a nice formal dinner with your client. Pack an extra outfit in-case you are invited to attend!

Pro-tip #4: Enjoy yourself

Your utmost responsibility is to get the job done. Don’t forget to also have fun and enjoy yourself! Be friendly and introduce yourself to the people around you. Take the time to interact with your clients if they are also attending. At the end of the day, you are already going to be utterly exhausted – if the opportunity presents itself to attend a party or meet up in a more relaxed environment after your day’s work is done, do it! Losing an extra hour or two of sleep isn’t going to make a dramatic difference in how tired you feel the next day. This is an opportunity to network and make connections, possibly even form a closer personal relationship with your client. Bond with your co-workers who are on this journey with you, you will become so much closer going through this experience together. Have fun and enjoy the moment! You can sleep when the conference is over 🙂Conference TeamFind more helpful tips here!

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