The big day is nigh: the start of the ATD International conference. Whether your department has 30 people or 1, you probably look forward to being among people who do what you do. While sheer relief will surely help you bond, you’ll walk away armed with much more insight for the year to come are properly prepared.
Since the Mimeo team has been to dozens of tradeshows, forums, summits, and conferences, we’ve gathered up some advice for how to make the most of your time at#ATD2016.
1. Put On Your Happy Face
Yes, you’re there to learn, but you’re also there to make new connections. That means you should arrive with a smile on your face, a question on your mind, and an attitude ready for anything. You’ll be making lots of first impressions over the next few days, so make sure you’re not the guy everyone remembers as a sourpuss.
2. Bring Your Business Cards
Make sure to have business cards on hand to give to people you meet, especially fellow attendees who don’t have access to the exhibitor scanning app. Bring them with you to the post-session dinners, drinks, or other activities, too.
3. Be Prepared to Take Notes
At some point during the conference, you are going to want to write something down. It may be what the keynote speaker says, it may be a brilliant thought you have during a boring session, it may be the major selling points of a vendor you’ve never heard of before. Whatever it is, don’t rely on the “I’ll remember to write this down when I get to my hotel room” technique. Instead, have a notebook, stylus, or whatever notetaking device you prefer at hand.
4. Don’t Forget Your Chargers
This conference is going to drain your phone of energy faster than it you can say ATD. Make sure you have back-up power at hand so that you won’t miss out on any digital opportunities due to a red blinking light.
5. Bring Some Conversation Starters
With 10,000 people there, you are going to talk to someone you don’t know. If that is a little daunting, get some conversation starters ready. You can find some great ones around the internet, such as The Muse’s list of 30 conversation starters.
6. Bring Some Conversation Enders
By that same token, you’ll probably find yourself in a conversation or two that need to end. This doesn’t even mean that the connection isn’t a good one; sometimes small talk goes on too long simply because no one knows how to end the conversation. Again, the Muse has some suggestions (and so does The Art of Manliness).
7. Wear Comfortable Shoes
ATD International expects to have over 10,000 attendees (also the number at which the US Census decides a town is actually a small city) and 400 vendors. You’re going to do a lot of walking. Take care of your feet by wearing comfortable socks and shoes, and maybe bring a couple of pairs to change in and out over the course of the conference.
8. Use #ATD2016
Social media is not only for millennials. The official #ATD2016 will help you access conversations at the conference you’d otherwise miss, including highlights from sessions simultaneous to the one you’re sitting in. Plus, if you join in the conversation online, you’ll have an automatic network to talk to for the rest of the year.
9. Go With a Problem to Solve
The conference has dozens of sessions planned to give you food for thought, but you’ll come away much more satisfied if you enter with one or two problems in mind. Talk to your fellow attendees about how they have tackled similar situations, and source out vendors who might be able to help solve your problem. Your conversations will be richer, and you just might walk away with a load off your shoulders.
10. Visit the Mimeo booth!
ATD is about three things: learning, connections, and fun. At the Mimeo booth, you’ll get all three! In the past, we’ve done everything from playing Plinko to giving away cash in a money booth. This year, we are donating $1 to our very deserving customer, Teach for America, for every person who stops by our booth. Be sure to say hi to Booth 912!
Bonus: Download our guide, “How to Make the Most of Your ATD Experience” to get an in-depth look at the sessions to attend, how to decide which booths to visit, where to get your snacks, and some recommended pre-conference reading.
We’ll also be sharing what we learn on social media, so keep in touch:
See you soon!