I was at the eWomen Network Conference last week. It was 5 days (including the pre-conference days) of world-class speakers, vendors, and attendees. It is a long time to be away from home and business and it can make doing business and staying healthy challenging. I wanted to share with you my top 3 tips for getting the most out of being at a conference.
1. Prepare to Be Away
Do you have things that you must do every week? I have this e-zine that goes out on Wednesdays and the posting of the previous article, social media, etc. Make sure you are prepared to be away and that things that must get done do get done.
- Change your voicemail message to let people know you will be away and how they can get in touch with you
- Turn on your email autoresponder to let people know when you will be responding
- Prepare your team (VA, assistant, contractors, employees) to take on work while you are gone if needed
- Pre-write your social media, newsletter, or other content and schedule it to go out at specific times
- Call your bank to let them know your credit cards and bank cards will be used in a different location. You don’t want them cancelling your card because they think your card was stolen.
I have done work from many different states and provinces. There is not always easily available internet. When you are in the middle of a project this can be a big problem. One time in Florida I had to go to a local internet company and purchase an internet connection box for 1 week so I could do my work and stay in touch with my team. It was well worth the $50 or so that I paid for it.
- Check that your cell phone will work at the conference location – get a data plan, texting, long distance if needed
- Remember to pack your power cables for your cell phone and your computer
- If you are crossing a border, check that the passport you are carrying is your own. You might laugh but this advice will help you two fold – to remember your passport (which I forgot once and nearly missed my flight) and to avoid the stress two people I know had when they arrived at the airport with their spouses passports. It happens!
Here is a great tip from my friend Lara Veltkamp of Watershed Marketing Group Inc – prepare your clients and contacts for your leave by changing your signature on your email to state that you will be away from the office next week. I love when I get an email from her and I see this. I know when I’m dealing with her what timelines we now have.
2. While in Transit
Traveling, airports, driving, security, customs, etc. can really take a lot out of you so be prepared to be comfortable, relaxed, and aware of what you will encounter on a normal or sometimes not so normal trip
- Pack your computer so it can be easily removed from the bag when you go through airport security (you will thank me for this one)
- Wear comfortable cloths in layers so you can be comfortable in all environments
- Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage (just in case your checked bag arrives late)
- If you are going through security screening have your liquids in a Ziplock bag, ready to pull out
- Pack a health snack
- Buy a bottle of water after you are through security checks if you are flying
3. Look After Yourself
For 5 days I had to be ‘on my game’. I had to be happy, engaging, and present. You may be able to expand your days, reduce your food, lower your nutritional content for a day or two, but if you marathon for too many days in a row you will not be able to function and that might happen on your flight home. Do you really want to get home to a week’s worth of backlog just to spend the first two days in bed? It is so important that your body gets what it needs every day.
In a recent article in Success Magazine titled “Develop a Leader’s Mind” by Brain Expert Daniel Amen, M.D [August 2012], he talks about the ‘Five Essentials’ needed to nurture and maintain a healthy brain (sleep, exercise, activity, food, and positivity).
Here are some specific things I do to maintain my brain power and my health while I am away.
- Drink lots of water – always have a bottle of water with you.
- Eat during the day – don’t stop eating, your body will need nutrition to handle the change in its routine.
- Look for good foods – if you know you will not find good food then eat less of the poor food.
- Bring nutritional supplements and energy, protein, or meal replacement bars – for the days you know you will not get to eat right.
- Walk when you can – walk to dinner instead of taking a taxi.
- Go for a walk between sessions.
- If you are prepared, use the hotel treadmill or pool.
- Do exercises in your room in the morning to stretch your muscles and prepare your spine for a sitting marathon.
- Get enough sleep most nights – 7-8 hours is best if you can.
- Alone time – spend some time alone reviewing the content of the day and rejuvenating your energy.
- The best energy – Choose positive people to share your extra time with. They will energize you instead of drain you.
There are so many more tips and stories I have heard and experienced over the years but I would love to hear yours. Email me, post it to Facebook and tag me, or put a comment on the bottom of this article and share your best learning experience around attending a conference that will help us all avoid the worst so we can truly enjoy our time away.