Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Top Things to Do/Not Do During & After a Conference

Me (bottom right) with a bunch of new friends I made at #NCCWSL2013

I just arrived back home from the National Conference for College Student Leaders 2013 (NCCWSL) at the University of Maryland, College Park.  This 4-day conference was so refreshing.  Because I am a total conference-junkie, I felt like a happy turtle in her shell and once again had a blast!  This all-women conference mixed me with women from around the United States (and Jamaica) of all levels of college.  Since this group mixed young college women from freshmen to graduate school graduates, I saw the nievity of some young conference goers, which reminded me how I was like at my first conference, way back in 8th grade.  *Let the good times roll*  So, aside from recapturing my glam-a-nerd (yes, I made that up) leadership experience, I am going to share my top tips for conferences! I am also including a fashion video to help you out with you conference fashion.  This is an all-in-one post, so buckle down and get ready to go!

Me with some political, campus, and environmental change agents!

Top 10 Things to Do at a Conference

1. Step outside of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to random people.  The more people you speak with, the higher change you will find more people who you have much in common with! You may want to start with introducing yourself,  followed by an inquiry on their research/interests.  Following this, ask to exchange information (even Facebook and Twitter when appropriate).  If they have their phones with them, you may want to prompt them to add you in that very moment.
2. Keep your business cards on hand.  If you have a lanyard with a plastic slip with your name on a paper, keep YOUR business cards on the other side of the lanyard. *Genius tip I learned last summer at a research conference*
3. Do not stay with the group you came with.  If you came with friends, they already are your friends... go off and make new ones!  If you want your future to open, you have to build your yellow brick road to get there!
4. Thank people around you for what they do.  Appreciation is not only kind, but let's face it... it feels great to be recognized.  Making someone feel special will increase your change of being remembered.
5. Have a confident handshake. Nasty handshakes make for a bad beginning to a could-have-been better conversation.
6. Bring water and mints. If you talk a lot, you will want to stay hydrated and energized.  As for the mints, you never know when your breath will decide to start smelling bad.
7. Set a goal for how many business cards you want to exchange per workshop/speaker series. Quantity isn't always better than quality, but if you are a good networker, you can do both.
8. Tell a story. When you tell others your research/interests be sure to connect why to the what.  If you connect the motive behind your research/interest this will allow the other person to remember you better in the future!
9. Ask questions. If you are confused about something, ask someone in charge. It is better to ask a question than to do something that may the flow of events negatively.
10. Be yourself.  [Personalities + Interesting Topics = Memorable Person ]  This means that you will be more memorable than the person who only had the interesting topic(minus the personality). Find the medium between professionalism and personality.  *points for you*

This is my university's chapter of AAUW during lunch our first day.

Top 6 Things Not to Do at a Conference

1. No Stinky Foods.  Avoid broccoli, garlic, tuna fish, or any other food that will give you green teeth or stinky breath.  Also beware of lettuce in your teeth!
2. No sky-high heels. Keep your heels under 3 inches. Any higher and you will not be taken seriously because high heels are not considered professional, especially if you end up taking them off.
3. No Cleavage. Keep your lady areas to yourself.
4. Do Not Stay with the group you came with the whole time.  I have realized that the conferences in which I was on my own, I got more out of because I was forced to network and listen to new people.  New people mean bring new ideas, resources, and connections.
5. Do Not Brag about your accomplishments.  There is a difference between informing people about what you do and sharing your experiences.  When you brag, you turn the other person off, and this may prevent them from wanting to keep in contact with you.
Tip: Excitement, not bragging is key.  Do not make it sound 
like you are bound for success because you are perfect and entitled.
Share the journey that brought you there.
6. Do Not Get tired. Conference are high energy over an extended amount of time. You need to be at your best the whole time because you may meet your future boss, the person that will introduce you to your future boss, or someone who you may be a future boss too. Many conferences are all day deals, so keep up your energy (fake-it if necessary) and crash when you get to your hotel room. It is worth it for YOUR future!

This is what I got out of the conference. Well, this and 32 contacts.

Top 6 Things to Do After a Conference

1. Collect all your new business cards and on the back, write 3 bullets describing: how that person looked, what their current position is in their field, and what they aspire to do in the future
2. Connect with your contacts on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook (if appropriate).
3. Go through your conference materials & review what you learned.  You may want to keep a separate notebook for all the conferences you attend.  Here, you can jot down information you learned through the years! :)
4. Reflect on your experience in a blog post or email and send this out to the contacts you made (if you made a strong connection).
5. Write "thank you" letters to workshop leaders and connections you feel were beneficial and/or will be beneficial in your future. If you took a photo with a contact, include that with the hand written letter.
6. Follow through and keep in touch.  After the initial contact, set a date where you are going to reconnect with your new contact.  If you said, "let's skype soon," you better set a date and make that call!

Tips for Quick Outfit Changes at a Conference

Moments from #NCCWSL2013

Highlight of the Conference: Fundraising Workshop
I was so excited to learn from Nancy Bocskor, a professor and pretty much a "fundraising guru." She also works with women across the globe to help develop leadership. *So aspirational*  When she spoke I felt like I was in a classroom where I actually wanted to learn and was excited to implement my new knowledge. I even asked myself, "Where does this lady teach? Transfer time!" This was followed by a chuckle to myself. :)  
She shared a story about this little pink carpet and how the sales man behind this carpet is is an example of a great fundraiser because of his persistence and excellent customer service and the idea of telling a story and linking it to the need for a product.   What a blessing it was to hear from someone who was a college student with the same intranets as me and has found joy in a career, regardless of a winding career path... this reminds me that I really do have time to accomplish my goals and that I do not have to push myself to find exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life upon college graduation.

Thank you Nancy!
Meeting new people with similar interests is the second best thing about a conference.  This comes in second to all the new knowledge learned.  Remember that the connections you make will help you in your future, or at least open your mind to new ideas! But really, I am just glad to make new girly friends that actually have multiple things in common with me! ^_^
Meet my soul sister right here! Elizabeth is so adorable and we got along from the start!  I am so excited to stay connected with her and become friends. :)
In DC!
Nothing more American than eating a hamburger (according to my Indonesian relatives)... I fulfilled that conception when I ate at Good Stuffs Eatery in DC! The Michelle Obama Melt is the best turkey burger I have ever had, and I don't even like hamburgers! *Mouthwatering* 
 I was excited to meet up with an old friend from college who now resides in DC. :)
Shavi(left) and myself with Oja Ojewumi(center). She is is a young woman who is not afraid to take risks and take steps to help others. She is also a kidney and heart transplant survivor.  She is what I like to call FIERCE!  It's so wonderful to see people my age who are accomplishing things that many people my age don't even consider.

Read more about her HERE!
Shavi (left) is such a doll. She pretty much helped me find graduate programs that would work for me. I feel like she was a mama duck and I was following her like a baby duckling. It meant so much to me that she wanted to help me figure out what graduate programs to consider.  Such a sweetie! She is my first friend from Jamaica too! 
My feet the entire time I sat down. I am a shoe-less rebel. :p
Here I am with Trishia(right), a human trafficking abolitionist I met at the conference.
Thank you for the "I found my voice" bangles, AAUW Chapter!  I actually really wanted one. hehe ^_^ *feeling so special*
Remember: you go to a conference to further your own future. If you do not take full advantage of every moment, the only person at loss is you.

Check out all 132 photos I took from from #NCCWSL2013 HERE!

Conference Junkie Out,

P.S. I want to once again thank all of you who supported me during my Truman process this year. Funny story... if I had won I would have been on a Truman retreat the same week this conference took place.  I guess God gave me a replacement.  Either way, because of the Truman interview and process I made amazing new inspiring friends across the country! 
Shout out to my new friends: Brittany, Nadia, Jenna, Anna, Lynn, and David!

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  1. Burkie8765.6.13

    I love your blog man! KEEP IT UP! I am also a conference-junkie :D
    The style and diversity of the pic(professional/silly/cute) u kept it real mami!
    ALSO loved the notes; TO DO and NOT TO DO at conferences! :)

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  3. I would have such a hard time stepping out of my comfort zone... but this sounds like so much fun!

  4. These are marvelous!! I agree with the above - you capture the unique and for me that is real style!! They are all covered in the latest trends, they create them and that's the marvel of fashion, the creation!! Not just seeing what's trendy and following it. The girl in the 3rd, 4th and 5th picture is wonderful, have spotted her in other places, no idea who she is, but I just love her!!Marvelous shots!! Xx

    girls onesies


Thank you for the lovely comment. God bless & stay Be-you-tiful!