So, you've signed up for a large scale summit, trade show, or networking event. Now what? If you're anything like me, packing for this trip starts the night before your flight. This ends up becoming a scramble to ensure you've packed all the necessities for your trip.
What are you going to wear? What shoes do you need? Will you be working out in the hotel gym? The list goes on. While you mainly just need to show up to the event, it's better to set yourself up for success. The less you have to worry about the day of, the better.
Here's my list of networking event must haves:
1. A portable phone charger
There's nothing worse than being cut off from the world simply because you didn't charge your phone. Need an Uber? Nope, can't do that with a dead phone. Want to check your email? No luck there either.
I was recently gifted a portable cell phone power bank and I love it. Honestly, I never knew how much I wanted one of these. It fully charges my phone multiple times, and it's actually a great icebreaker. So many people were looking to charge their phones in our group of acquaintances, and I got to know them a little better as we joked over who would hold the phone and charger, not wanting the other to disappear with their goods.
2. Business cards
You'll meet a ton of new people, and instead of trying to remember to connect online, handing out business cards is a quick and easy way to stay connected. It sounds obvious, but I stumble across numerous people who forgot theirs or have out-of-date information. If the event has ID scanners, those are a bonus.
3. Granola bars
A lot of these events have finger foods or snacks throughout the day, but when you're powering through eight hours of networking and learning, your stomach is probably going to start grumbling. I keep a granola bar or piece of fruit in my purse in case of an emergency.
4. Note taking supplies
I write down notes in my phone, but my assistant prefers to jot things down on a notepad. We all stay organized differently, so keep in mind your favorite way to remember important details and pack those items accordingly.
5. A lightweight tote bag
When I attend trade shows or speaking events, I almost always end up with an armful of goodies or promotional materials. These simply don't fit into my purse, and if you're a guy who isn't a fan of man bags, you might find yourself in the same situation.
I started packing an easy-to-fold canvas tote bag in my purse to whip out in the event that I have a lot to carry. It's a life safer, seriously. Even if you've only got a bottle of water, a few pamphlets, a map of the grounds, etc. it adds up, and we all need our hands free to snap a few pictures or check social media.
6. A name badge
My biggest pet peeve when it comes to networking events is not being able to easily distinguish who the attendees are. If you're given a name badge, please wear it.
You don't look any more cool than anyone else by not wearing it, and you're probably hurting your chances at networking with like-minded individuals because they have no idea who you are. I dislike hunting and pecking through a crowd of people to find the types with whom I'm most interested in connecting.
7. A refillable water bottle
You know what's worse than listening to a bad talk? Being the person in the crowd with an uncontrollable cough who has no water on hand and is disrupting the entire event.
Surprise, all eyes are on you! If only you had a water bottle, or -- even better-- a refillable water bottle so you can save yourself $3 every time you need to quench your thirst. Most large scale events are held at locations that have water fountains, and refills are free.
8. A casual outfit
If you're in a new area, take advantage of any free time you have on hand and explore the town. You may never be back, stop and have a bite to eat, soak up the scenery.
Once you've packed these items in your bag, and you're prepared for an exciting day remember to eat a healthy breakfast, stay hydrated, and set goals on who you'd like to meet and what you'd like to accomplish at the event. If you do all of these things, you'll be steps ahead of the other attendees and well on your way to a successful event.