By the way, Danny and I are BOTH speaking at Alt this year! We're thrilled to be a part of such an amazing event. We'll be speaking on Wednesday, January 22 from 4:30-5:30 pm at the early bird session. Our class is called "Happiness, Identity and Worth in Blogging." We're hoping to give people a boost in their endeavors (and also a boost right at the beginning of the conference, which I definitely could have used myself that first year I attended.)
And today, I have a few practical conference tips for anyone attending...
1. Take flats. Pack flats. Wear flats. Don't forget your flats!!!!
I need this reminder every year. But somehow I just don't take enough flats. My feet are usually killing me so bad by the end of it that I end up carrying my heels and walking without shoes on the carpeted hotel floors. In fact, you see a lot of people doing the same. Seriously, everyone is dying.
Here are some flats I'm considering (I've recently caught on to J.Crew Factory. They have great stuff and the prices are significantly cheaper!) These are the Emery Flat in bronzed clay or dusty charcoal or black. It seems these would go with anything.
3. Write reminder notes on business cards you receive. This will make or break your networking after the conference. You will exchange what feels like HUNDREDS OF CARDS at the conference so by the end of it, it will all be a blur. You will talk collaborations and websites and connections with a zillion people and if you do not notate the conversations, trust me...you will walk away with a big question mark when you try to remember that one girl - and that one blog - among hundreds. And most importantly, take very, very detailed notes of the conversations you have with sponsors. For these notes, I actually start a note page in my i-phone. Also, separate the cards you receive into different groups (maybe one for sponsors, one for bloggers you want to keep in touch with, one for blogs you need to look at, etc.)
4. Drink a TON of water. If you're coming from the east coast, especially, your skin will shrivel up, crackle, and die in that wintery, dry Salt Lake air. So take a bottle of water with you or drink water at every opportunity you get. Luckily the Alt staff provides drinks quite regularly.
5. Send your media kits WELL in advance to all the sponsors you would love to work with. This allows for a greater connection at the event and when you go to introduce yourself, they might actually already know you and better yet, may have already checked out your blog or even set up a meeting with you! This has worked like a charm for me.
6. DO. NOT. GO. WITHOUT. BUSINESS CARDS! If you're a new blogger, it might feel silly to actually have a business card for your blog or endeavor. But trust me, you'll want one. If you want to make ANY connections at all, you really, really should bring some cards...even if they just have your name and email. For my cards, I used a letter press studio in Salt Lake City called The Mandate Press. Many designers I know in NYC use them as they do GREAT work and the prices are not terrible. They have been so kind each year to actually drop off the cards at the concierge at the Grand America for me! (The studio is just down the street.)
7. Tweet with sponsors in advance and after the conference. This is another great way to make connections with their team. This has led to some great connections for me.
8. Take snap shots of your outfits in advance. OK, I know this just sounds dumb. But, I find it helps me to stay organized at times when I am actually wearing something other than cozies. I learned this from Marina Dobreva (she's a stylist and routinely takes snap shots of her client's outfits so she can remember what goes with what.)
9. Take your vitamins to stay healthy. The air pollution in Salt Lake City just sucks. I mean, it really, really, really sucks. I've hardly seen anything like it. Salt Lake is a valley so in the winter, the "inversion" just keeps every bit of fume and dirt and grime right above the city. My body fights it every time I'm there and I know many have gotten sick (including me). So...pack your dream team vitamins! For me, if I'm getting sick, the absolute best vitamin of my life is VITAMIN D (in drops.) I used to take garlic, echinacea, and vitamin C with pretty good success. But my holistic doctor in Brooklyn recommended taking 8,000-10,000 IU of Vitamin D if we ever felt a cold coming on, and I'm telling you, it works for both Danny and I like nothing we've ever used before. We have been shocked. This is the one we use (from my research, I've learned the "emulsified" Vitamin D drops absorb the best.) I just stocked up on two more bottles of this to take abroad. I can't recommend it enough.
10. If you need to change outfits while at the Grand America...the public restrooms are actually pretty posh. I've changed in them before and they were really great. Use the one closest to the lobby as it will be less crowded than the bathrooms near all the Alt classrooms. HOWEVER, the BEST place to change is at the Spa. It's reaaallly roomy and comfy and the attendants are so lovely. You basically will have the place to yourself. And, if you really wanted to treat yourself, you could get a "quick fix" massage there for $80. They also have a steam bath and sauna. By Thursday evening, every bone in your body will want this. (By the way, I read that they recently renovated the spa and it is larger than ever. The new entrance is on the main floor.)
11. There is free parking at Little America, the hotel across the street. Otherwise you can park underneath the Grand America.
12. Leave your coat in your car. There IS a coat check area near the Alt area, which you can use as an alternative. But really, if you can pull it off, leave behind that huge coat as you'll be carrying loads and loads and loads of stuff with you all over the hotel.
13. Leave your big ol' heavy bag in the coat check area. Seriously ditch that thing as quickly as you can and go add to it as needed. Maybe have another smaller bag to take with you to the classes with things like your lipstick, notebook, i-phone, business cards, water.
14. Be REALLY careful about parking underneath the Grand America. That parking garage is like a black hole and I've gotten lost (and haven't been able to locate my car) pretty much every time I've gone there.
15. TAKE CHAPSTICK. Again, your skin will shrivel up and die in that air. It's seems lips are the first to go. So, have several chapsticks at the ready. This is my favorite organic chapstick these days. I just love this stuff. It's olive oil based and scented with citrus oil.
16. Find Laurie Smithwick and go show your business card to her. She's the business card guru of Alt Summit and teaches an Alt business card class online prior to the conference. I showed my card to her and she was delighted that I did. If you ask her, she'll likely even give you some honest feedback. And...if she loves your card, you might end up as an example in one of her classes. I am a lucky one that can say that happened to me. :) :)
17. Introduce yourself to the speakers. After every panel, there is usually a quick line that will form at the front as people would like to meet the speakers. This is your opportunity to say hello, give them your card, make a personal connection, hint at a collaboration you'd love to propose to them later, or ask them a question. Trust me, they will be flattered that you would want to meet them and they will likely be very helpful and sincere.
18. Organize the cards you receive into a business card book. This can be a very, very helpful way to organize your cards. I still need to do this with the gazillion cards I now have from past years. I love this card book from Muji.
19. You may want to consider something to help you sleep. My mind always races when I'm at Alt and in the past I have found it hard to sleep. So, if there is something you do that helps you sleep, BRING IT. A few things that I love - this really wonderful sleep meditation CD (even Danny loves this...and he was skeptical); this absolutely DIVINE sleep aromatherapy by Tata Harper called Aromatic Bedtime Treatment; and a Magnesium/Calcium supplement, which is very helpful for sleep. I take this one. (See this helpful article about sleep and magnesium from Dr. Hyman).
20. If Meg from A Practical Wedding is teaching a class, GO TO IT. She is one of the most informative and helpful speakers I have heard at Alt. She'll give you hard core, no fluff information. Also, Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook is an AWESOME speaker and always gives concrete info. And, Brooke and Summer from The Girls With Glasses gave an AMAZING class one year with tips that I still reference.
21. Take a break and drink some tea. I don't know how it happens, but Alt Summit is downright exhausting. That's a good thing, in the long run, because you are meeting so many people, learning so much, making tons of connections, etc....but, it all takes a toll. Danny and I practically collapsed last year. We found ourselves catching our breath in the lobby bar area or anywhere we could find some comfy couches. We took turns getting each other tea or even just hot water with lemon in it...and at times we could barely move. haha. But, it's all worth it! It's truly an amazing event.
And here are some posts from my first year and second year at Alt SLC. And the first year and second year (+ Sunday Suppers) at Alt NYC. And, outfits for Alt (1 & 2).
Are you planning to go to the conference this year? Are you excited, overwhelmed by packing, nervous about meeting people, insecure about your blog's size or by even having a blog at all, prepared/unprepared, hopeful about your endeavor? I'm always curious what others think about it all. And, if you have any other conference tips to add here, please do!