Listen and subscribe on your favorite podcast app:
Disclaimer: Please note this post may contain affiliate links. This means I may receive a commission if clicked at no extra cost to you. Though the opinions remain my own
I just got back from attending my first in-person conference and learned so much! I honestly had no idea what to expect, but now that I know – I want to share those insights with you.
In this episode, I’m sharing insights to help you prepare yourself when attending an in-person conference, whether it’s your first or next one. And of course, I’ll be sharing this along with my experience from having attended Make Your Mark Live in Dallas.
So even if you’re just curious to know how it went, tune in and get the scoop.
Links Referenced in this Episode:
Connect with me:
(Note: This is a formatted AI-generated transcript to make it easier for you to read through, but is not an optimized blog post. Please excuse any spelling or grammar errors and filler words – it’s just how I speak LOL)
I just got back from attending my first in-person conference and I learned so much. I honestly had no idea what to expect, but now that I know, I want to share those insights with you. In this episode, I’m sharing insights to help you prepare yourself when attending an in-person conference, whether it’s your first or next one.
And of course, I’ll be sharing this along with my experience, having attended Make Your Mark Live in Dallas. So if you’re curious as to how it went and what you can do whenever it’s time for you to attend your next conference, tune in and get the scoop. Let’s get started.
Hey, I’m Lucy Reyes, your host of the Cheerful Productive Chats Podcast, where I’m on a mission to help online entrepreneurs like you focus on all the right things and kiss overwhelm goodbye. Here, you’re going to learn strategies that will boost your productivity so that you can scale your online biz and impact lives sooner. It’s your time to shine so let’s get started!
Insights From My First In-Person Conference Experience
Hey, hey, you’re welcome back to the Cheerful Productive Chats Podcast. I am so excited about today’s episode because at the time of recording this, it’s only been a few days since I got back from attending my very first in-person conference. I had the amazing opportunity to go to Make Your Mark Live in Dallas and so all of this is fresh in my mind.
So I have a list in front of me of some insights that I learned from having attending an in-person conference from the first time that I want to share with you.
And I’m just going to go down this list and share a little bit of my experience at this conference and why these are some insights that I want to share with you so that way, next time you attend an in-person conference, whether it’s your first one or your next one, that you’re a little bit more prepared then maybe I was, and that you can come back and listen to this episode whenever it’s time for you to go in person.
And maybe I’ll see you at one in the future, because let me tell you. I am definitely going to be keeping an eye on any in-person conferences, because it was so much fun. But I am not going to go into all of the details about the conference itself. Um though you will get a little bit of an insight scoop as I go through all of these insights here in this episode. So let’s go ahead and dive in.
Join the online community
So the first insight that I would really recommend is if the conference that you’re attending has an online community, join it. So I know it’s a very, very common for virtual summits to have like a Facebook group or something tied to it. And, you know, everyone has their own preference of whether you want to join the community or not.
But the community is a lot different when it’s an in-person a conference. Okay. So it’s a different, and I don’t know why, like, I don’t really know why it’s different, but maybe it’s because you know, you sign up for something virtually, usually it’s free and you are still living life.
You’re still living in your day to day and you have to make time. You have to decide whether you’re going to make time to watch the presentations or not, or actually be an active participant in the summit or whatever it is.
But when you’re attending in person, you’re there. Right. Like you are physically present at the conference, at the summit or whatever it is like you’re physically there. You likely had to book a flight or take a drive out to where to wherever it is. You’re spending money to be at this conference. Right.
Because you have to book your flight or pay for the hotel room. And so it’s a different type of community because everyone is present in the conference. And so the community that we had for the Make Your Mark Live, there is so much engagement and there was some engagement before the event.
And some of the things that I’m going to share with you today actually took place inside of the community. So I’m not going to jump ahead, but just know that if there is an online community where you can talk to people who are attending the conference, then you definitely want to join that ahead of time so that way you can start building that connection and start getting to know who you’re going to be meeting in person. Okay. So that’s number one.
Get organized before the event
Number two is to get yourself organized so that way you can be prepared. This should not be a surprise if you follow me because you know, I have all the Trello templates inside the shop.
You know I preach for you to get organized. Okay. So I, for this event, I created a Trello board and in that Trello board I had all of the links that I needed for the conference. And I’m not just talking about the links to like the presentations or anything because we’re there in person.
So I’m talking about links to the hotel. Links to what to do in the city or the area. Links to the community, like these other types of links that you might not have handy and you might not be able to Google either. So you want to have all of the links accessible.
I also had the schedule there, so I knew whenever the shuttle was going to be picking up to and from the hotel. I knew what time we were going to be eating lunch and what time we were going to have a break, because you know, those things are important.
And even though the schedule doesn’t match entirely when it’s an in-person event cause you know, anything can happen. But you kind of get an idea of like, when certain things are going to be taking place.
It also helps you keep track of all the, like the addresses. So you might need to know how are you going to get to the hotel? You can have it all easily in one place. So it’s just a way to keep yourself organized and have easy access and be able to take notes from the speaker presentations. So I really do recommend that you create some sort of organizer digitally that you can take with you.
You can of course take a notebook to write things down when you’re there in person, but I do recommend that you take something ahead of time that’s a little bit more organized, a little bit more digital. So that way you can just pull it up on your phone whenever you need to find the address to get yourself back to the hotel, to know what to type into Uber if you need to. So get yourself organized digitally is the second thing.
Take digital business cards
The third thing is to create digital business cards so that way you can share. So, I didn’t have one. And I didn’t have one for reasons beyond that I’m not going to get into this episode specifically.
But you do want to have digital business cards and there’s so cool. There are some that I’m never like heard, there were still easy to use and it’s like a QR code or you just scan something and their information automatically gets imported into your phone. Like, they’re pretty cool. And you can take paper business cards of course.
A lot of people also had those, but the digital ones, they had like a sticker on their phone. So it was just really easy. But regardless, you want to take some sort of business card because having to make someone pull up their phone and try to find you on Instagram.
And they’re also trying to get so many other people’s information and, you know, they might misspell it and then it’s taking a little bit longer. So it just makes it a lot easier and also what I realized is because I didn’t have digital cards, so that’s what I had to do.
And then it was the same thing where not everyone was giving me digital cards cause they also didn’t have it. And I’m having to follow so many people on Instagram, right? It’s like, oh, what’s your Instagram handle?
And then what happens is you end up following so many people. And you don’t remember who are the ones that you actually met in person. Who are the ones that you met at the conference? You might follow some people that, you know, just followed you randomly on Instagram, and now you don’t know like who they are. You don’t remember what their handle was. It just makes it a little bit harder for follow-up to take place. And for you to remember who it is that you actually met.
And so if you’re at an in-person conference, you’re likely there for connection, collaboration. And having business cards just really makes it easy for you to do that follow up and be able to connect with these people after the conference has ended.
So definitely create digital business cards, especially if you’re also looking to exchange or hire out your services. It just makes it easier to connect who you are, how they can contact you and what it is that you do all in one place. All right.
Consider staying at the conference hotel
The fourth thing is to consider staying at the hotel that the conference has booked. So many times a conference will do a room block at a specific hotel. Maybe you get a discount on it.
And of course, you’re probably gonna find a better deal at another hotel because those are the ones that they booked tend to be a little bit on the higher end. And I don’t just speak from experience from the conference that I attended in Dallas, but in my past life in corporate, I used to manage hotels and events and do all of this stuff for the company that I worked for. And that was a very common thing. Right.
It’s like they will do a room block close to wherever the venue is. And of course they’re trying to impress. They want everyone to be comfortable so sometimes the hotel is not the cheapest hotel. But if you’re able to, if your finances allow, I will suggest that you consider staying at the hotel conference and here’s why.
So a lot of people are going to be staying at the same hotel. Right. It’s easy. It’s easy. There’s a reason why room blocks exist. Not everyone will stay at the same hotel, but a good majority of people will. And this means that it’s easier for you to connect with other people. And my trick here was to wear your conference badge.
So when you attend an in person conference, they’re going to give you some sort of badge or signal that like, hey, you’re a part of this conference, and so if you are at your hotel, you can walk around with your badge so that way someone else who is also attending the conference, knows that you’re a part of them. Like you’re a part of their group.
Because think about it. Everyone at the conference doesn’t know each other. Like everyone is there for very similar reasons, and sure there’s going to be a group of people who already knew each other before attending the conference.
But the majority of people aren’t going to know each other. And more than likely, a lot of them are wanting to get to know more people. And so you, for you, you can spot someone else’s conference badge, and then they can spot yours.
So whenever I was eating breakfast at the hotel, I was wearing it. I didn’t know anyone. But I’m eating a breakfast at the hotel and it was easy for someone to just be like, oh, Hey, how are you? Who are you? What do you do? Because they were part of the conference too. And these are people that we’ve never talked before.
Like. You know, I’m walking into the restaurant at the hotel wearing my badge just about to go sit at my table and order my food. And then there’s two people there and they’re like, Hey. We haven’t met yet. How’s it going? And then we talk, right. And we’re there for connection and collaboration and to get to know one another, and that made it really easy for that to happen.
At the same time, they provided a shuttle to and from the hotel, which means there’s more opportunities for you to connect with people on the shuttle. So if you can, I would really consider staying at the hotel conference so that way you can do all of those things and you don’t have to spend money on Uber if they provided the shuttle, but more and so the main reason is for you to be able to instantly find that connection with someone else that’s attending the same event as you. All right.
Attend the spontaneous dinners
So number five is to attend dinners with other attendees even if you don’t know them, So, like I said, most people are not going to know each other. And what I loved about, I don’t know if it was just this conference cause this is just my first one or if this is like a thing. But attend dinners.
So a little story here. Uh, the first day was officially a Thursday, but there is going to be a welcome party on the Wednesday before. And so I live four hours away from Dallas and my family was going to go with me. My husband was going with me. He has family in Dallas, so we’re just going to take a road trip over there. And my goal was to make it in time for the welcome party.
And then people started saying, oh, I’m going to be here early. Who wants to go to dinner before the welcome party? And this is all inside the community Which is why I say you want to join the online community.
So people are posting like, Hey, I made a reservation. Hey, who wants to join? Hey, I’m new. Um, I’m attending this conference, who else wants to connect before the welcome party? And there was so many meetups and it was amazing. And so I told my husband, I was like, um, We got to leave earlier. I really want to go to the dinner before the welcome party.
So we got to go earlier. I was like, it’s not like a priority, you know, but if we can, like, we really should. And I barely made it. Like, I, I was, I got to the hotel. I quickly changed. He waited in the car and then he dropped me off at the restaurant, but I am so glad that I did that on the very first day before the event even started because I made friends.
And I feel like a little kid at school in high school, or just saying that, but I made friends with the people at the table. It ended up, it was. It was a whole situation. It was a whole beautiful situation that I’m not going to get into because that would be a whole episode, but the dinner was at a small place and it was I think it ended up being 9 or 12 of us.
And we were all squished in this little table, because we didn’t know how many people were going to join that dinner. But it made us even more connected and all of us were there basically alone. So none of us knew each other. But by the end of the dinner, we had become friends with each other. And so the next day, and at the welcome party, we weren’t standing alone.
We were in kind of like, okay, I just got here. I don’t know what’s going on. I’m just going to stand out in my own little corner. Like that didn’t happen. We already had people that we could talk to and continue the conversation with. And that was just the first day. Once the conference started, there was more dinner meetups and you get to meet even more people. And again, no one knows each other.
A lot of people that don’t know each other. So it’s a really great way to connect with other people who are probably feeling as awkward, as introverted as you, but they’re there because they want to meet others in the same industry in the online business world.
So definitely attend dinners with other people and if possible, try to meet up with someone or a handful of people before the conference even starts, because then you’ll actually have someone to kind of go back to during the conference and really just start building that connection early. So highly, highly recommend attend the dinners.
Be yourself and wear whatever you want
Alright, where are we? I think we’re on number six. So be yourself. And I think this goes without saying, but I, I know that personally, I was like, I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know the type of people that are going to be here.
I don’t know the level of people that are going to be here, which it was amazing to be surrounded by just such a diverse group of people, not just with their nationalities, but the types of businesses and the levels of where they are in their business journey. It was just great. But you just want to be yourself.
So one thing that I specifically liked about this event was, it was like dress however you want to dress. There’s no dress code. Just you know, come whatever in whatever makes you comfortable, but also know there’s gonna be pictures, you know, so whatever you’re comfortable with.
And let me tell you. I stressed out about what I was going to wear. Okay. I just stressed out so much. I wasted so much time trying to figure out like those perfect outfits and what to wear and something that I was telling people was like, I’m not a jeans person.
I don’t like jeans. I hate jeans. I’ve always hated jeans my whole life. I don’t like them. But I was going to a conference and I really liked that look of wearing a nice blazer, you know, a comfy nice blazer, not like those thick ones, but a nice comfy blazer with jeans and my sneakers. And I really wanted that look. And so I’m trying on a bunch of jeans.
I’m going to the store and I’m trying on all of these different pairs of jeans and I’m like, can I, can I last all day in these. And the answer was no. I am a t-shirt and leggings and shorts kind of girl. Like that is what you will find me wearing, like 90% of the time. And if you catch me during that other 10%, it’s only because I’m only going to be wearing that outfit for like two to three hours.
So. It was really hard. And then in the end I was like, you know what, screw it. Like, I don’t like jeans. I don’t even know why I’m trying to force myself into something that I don’t even like to wear. And I wore my leggings. I showed up with a leggings and my blazer and my sneakers, and I felt really good.
And then the next day, I just wear some like pink pants, which were still very comfortable. And I was still wearing my sneakers because that is the type of shoe that I really like to wear. And it was great. It was fine. And everyone there was dressed in their own way.
And so this tip is like, be yourself, but also dress however you want to dress. Okay. Because I think that really also helps show a little bit of who you are and not try to force yourself into some other type of dress style that you don’t even like.
So it was really cool also to see all the different fashion senses that are out there and how some people chose to dress for the conference. And it was just really cool, but also like how you act so. You obviously want to be yourself. I guess, I don’t think I ha I really have to go too much into this, but just be yourself.
Whether that’s a little quirky, whether that’s funny, whether that’s loud, whether that’s quiet, like don’t feel like you have to be something else to be at these events, or like you have to try to fit in because honestly, there’s way too many of us, and we’re all super unique. So you won’t actually be like anyone else, right. Because you’re unique. You’re your own person. So be yourself. I’m not going to go too much into that one. All right.
Takes lots of pictures and video
The next one is something that I didn’t do and I regretted, which was take lots of pictures and video, please.
Especially you as an online business owner, that’s content. That is content for you. And I was really sad because I took some pictures mostly on the last day cause I’m like, oh my gosh, we should see some pictures.
So I didn’t get many pictures in my first outfit, which I was like, oh, boo. But also video, like B roll for Instagram. I just missed out on so many opportunities for reels because I didn’t take video.
So, obviously for the memories, like you want to have memories of the event. I usually lately in the past few years, am more of like the living in the moment type of person. So I’m enjoying, soaking everything in, the moments in. But that means that I usually end up taking less pictures and videos than I probably should because after the moment is over, I’m always like, oh man, I wish I had taken more pictures or video.
And that is exactly what happens. So when you go to an in-person conference, Take lots of video. Everyone is doing it. Don’t feel awkward doing it. Take a ton of pictures in videos. Okay. Don’t be like me because I totally totally regretted it now that I’m gone.
Remember to follow-up
And then don’t forget to follow up. I mentioned that earlier, this is a great opportunity for you to connect with others, to mingle, to provide, or to pitch your services. Not necessarily when I say pitch, I don’t mean like you’re shoving it down people’s throats.
But it sometimes comes up naturally in conversation where someone is talking about their struggles with you or something that they’re going through or something that they’re needing help with.
And if that happens to be right up your alley, then all you have to do is like, oh, that’s what I do. I heard that a lot. Like, this is what I do. Like we should totally connect. You should totally book a call with me and we can, you know, talk it out. And it’s different hiring someone that you’ve met in person because you have a connection first before you’re looking around shopping around on their websites.
And then you get on a call and you don’t know how this person is going to be, what they’re like, and you don’t find out until you have that like discovery call. But in this situation, you’ve already met them in person. Like, you know exactly how they are, so now that discovery call isn’t as awkward. And this is true.
Like, if you are a service provider and you’re wanting to sell more of your services, or if you are the person hiring someone else. Everyone has their own magic, their own superpower, their own like thing that they are great at and it was such a large range. And I met so many people that like the speakers are not the only experts in the room.
Every single person in that room was an expert and it was amazing. And I left with like three people that’s like, I definitely think I’m going to work with these people moving forward. Like I am setting up a call later this week to talk to them, to continue the conversation that was started at the conference. So it goes both ways.
Like you might end up finding someone that’s going to help you with something that you didn’t even know that you needed help with, or that you weren’t ready to hire out for, or you hadn’t found the right person. And you might also find someone who is in those shoes and book out some of your services.
So don’t forget to follow up because You don’t want to let all that momentum go to waste. So definitely make some time to follow up with everyone who you connected with, whether it’s just a quick DM, like, Hey. You know, I, it was so nice to meet you at the conference. We should totally keep in touch, or I need to book that call with you or whatever it is, especially the ones that you want to stay connected with.
I met some Houston friends in Dallas. We are totally bringing the conversation back here. We’re going to talk, I have some Collaboration set up for the podcast and some other cool things that we’re going to be doing. But that won’t happen unless we follow up with each other, right? Like we are getting pulled in so many different directions. It’s all that is going to be really, really fun.
I’m really looking forward to it, but it is important. And I do know that there are some people that are like, yeah. I usually attend these conferences and then I go back home and I forget. I forget to follow up. you really want to make an effort to follow up for whatever it is that y’all talked about at the conference.
Stay open to what may happen and have fun!
And then lastly, have fun! Stay open to whatever might come out of this conference. Like, like I said, this was my first one. I had no idea what to expect, but I was totally open. And I told my husband, even though you’re going with me, And you’re staying at the hotel with me, do you. Do whatever you want with the kids. Don’t count on me. Like don’t count on me to be around or to come back for dinner or don’t wait on me.
Like, I’m going to stay open to whatever is going to come up from the event. So the event is my priority. I’m going to be open to all the dinner parties and whatever else they want to do. And it was great because I got to connect with even more people outside of the event at the event itself.
It was really cool to mingle with new people and we had a lot of breaks, so that gave us a lot of time to talk to people in between the speaker sessions. There was other fun things. So one cool thing that I got to do was talk to Ellen from Cubicle to CEO, and we had a little brief podcast chats.
It was like a little, little clip that I’m waiting on and then I’ll figure out what to do with it. But it was so fun to just get to talk to her. They also had brand photo opportunities there. So that’s partly why I stressed out with my outfits. Cause I’m like, man, I’m going to get some pictures here.
But, you know, you just want to stay open to all of the things, all of the possibilities that are going to happen, because you don’t really know exactly what could come out of it.
Like you might go in with one thing in mind or one intention, but there’s so much more that can come out of this event than just being there for the speakers.
And so stay open, stay open to those possibilities and also enjoy yourself, have fun. This is so different from attending a summit online. And it is so worth it. I am definitely going back to the next one. And I am definitely going to be keeping my eyes open for even more in-person conferences, especially if they’re close by. But even if it’s, it means I have to travel well, you know what? I think it’s going to be worth it.
So those are the insights that I took away from attending an in-person conference. And so if you are going to be heading out to your first or your next one, Keep these things in mind so that way you can be a little bit more prepared than I was.
And stay tuned for the next episode where I’m going to actually share specific takeaways from the speaker presentations because oh, my gosh, they were mind blowing. They were just so good to where, like I have to share, like I have to share specific points with my audience, especially since I am so connected to you guys.
And I really take a lot of time to listen to your feedback and to read your responses. And there is so much that I personally took away for myself, but also there’s some messages that I think are really going to resonate with you too based on where you are at in your business journey. And so I’ll be sharing about those in the next episode.
So if you haven’t followed or subscribed to the podcast yet, you definitely want to do so go ahead and hit follow on the podcast and stay tuned for the next episode. I’ll talk to you soon.
Thank you so much for listening to the Cheerful Productive Chats with me at Lucy eyes. To view the complete show notes and all the links mentioned in today’s episode, visit cheerstoproductivity.com/41.
And before you go, make sure you subscribe or follow wherever you’re listening so, you know, once the next productive chat is released. Talk soon and cheers to your productivity and success!
Links Referenced in this Episode:
Don’t miss a single episode so that you can get productive and grow your online biz without overwhelm.
Subscribe to the podcast and tune in every Wednesday: